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LI E) RAFLY 

OF THE 

UN IVER5ITY 

or ILLINOIS 



8^3 

R43I -fyr 
V.3 



FRANK SINCLAIR'S WIFE. 



AND OTHER STOBIES. 



BY 

MES. RIDDELL 



ACTHOE OF 



geoege geith," " too mtch alone," " home, sweet home,' 
"the eael's peomise," etc. etc. 



IN THREE VOLUMES. 
VOL. Ill 



LONDON : 

TINSLEY BROTHERS, 8, CATHERINE STREET. STRAND. 
1874. 

[All rights of Translation and Reproduction a/re Beserved.'] 



PKINTED BY TATLOE AND CO., 
LITTLB QUEBN STREET, LINCOLir'S INN EIBLDS. 



y. 5 



CONTENTS 



THE THIBD VOLUME. 



MY LAST LOVE. 




CHAP. 


PACK 


I. AFTER HER MARRIAGE .... 


1 


II. I PROPOSE 


. 17 


III. THE " HAPPIEST DAY OF MY LIFE " 


. 45 


IV. MARRIAGE 


. 72 


V. MY VISITOR 


. 91 


VI. LADY SURRY ..... 


. 116 


VII. ALL WRONG 


. 136 


VIII. RECONCILED 


. 164 


IX. CONCLUSION 


. 184 



FOREWARNED, FOREARMED 



205 



HERTFORD O'DONNELL'S WARNING 



24'; 



MY LAST LOVE 

A SEQUEL TO 

• MY FIEST LOVE. 



MY LAST LOVE. 



CHAPTER I. 

AFTER HER MARRIAGE. 

Throughout the whole of my professional 
career it has been a comfort to me to re- 
member that when the great case of ' Ayles- 
bury V. Montfort ' was lost, as lost it was, I 
had no share in the disaster. 

To this hour I cannot understand why 
Aylesbury was beaten, more particularly as 
when he ultimately carried his cause to the 
House of Lords, he gained the day. 

Trifles, as people regard them, influence 
verdicts. The state of the foreman's liver — 

VOL. III. 



My Last Love. 



the fact of some pig-headed juror having 
dined too late and too well the evening 
preceding — the temper in which another 
entered his matutinal omnibus, said temper 
being influenced by the lateness of break- 
fast, or a request for cash from his wife — 
these things, and things such as these, are 
sufficient occasionally to rule the fortunes 
of Csesar, whilst the outer world considers 
the fault lies either with Caesar or Csesar's 
friends, and censures and chides both ac- 
cordingly. 

Wherefore, the fates having ruled I was 
to achieve no success in love, I felt glad — 
when I was capable of feeling glad about 
anything — that the jade Fortune had not 
served me the sorry trick of taking not only 
Eose, but the chances of fame and wealth 
also. 

After all, if a man must wear the willow, 
it is as well he should wear it in a decent 
hat. 

I think there is a good deal of truth in 



After Her Marriage, 



that well-worn adage concerniDg love and 
cards. For my own part I cannot now 
recall an instance of a man who proved a 
winner in both. THe world of course talks 
largely about handsome wives, and lovely 
children, and a princely income, as it talks 
largely about most things appertaining to its 
favourite sons and daughters ; but I, who 
have listened to as many confidences as most, 
know quite well that to the majority of 
human beings there comes an hour when the 
devil or luck says, '-'• How will you take it 
— gold or affection ? It is impossible to 
grasp both — which shall it be ? " 

Whilst some poor wretches handing the 
whole of their future into the hands of fate, 
get nothing back in exchange — for every 
rule has its exceptions — and there will 
always be some men and some women with 
whom nothing shall prosper till the end of 
this world's volume. 

As I was remarking, it has ever been a 
comfort to me that I had nothing to do with 

B 2 



My Last Love, 



the great case of ^ Aylesbury v, Montfort.' 
"WTien it came on, and an intelligent jury 
decided Montfort should retain possession of 
a property to which he had no more right 
than myself, I was lying in Staple's Inn ill 
unto death, with my mother and Joan tend- 
ing me. Everyone of course said it was the 
shock of seeing Eose another man's wife 
which brought on the fever, for there is a 
great deal of that sort of folly believed, but 
when I grew better I knew differently. It 
is never so much the shock we receive, as 
what we do after the shock, that stretches 
us on a sick bed. Dick takes to brandy 
probably, and Harry either to starving or 
dissipation; I, Tom, walked for hours and 
hours through the snow, which was be- 
ginning to thaw, got thoroughly soaked, and 
then sat in my wet clothes while the night 
express bore me back to town. 

Arrived in town, I thought to avert all 
chance of illness by a glass of something 
hot and strong — but the remedy either came 



After Her Marriage. 



too late or was not of tlie right kind, for 
after that night there ensues a blank in my 
memory which has never been thoroughly 
filled up, even by those obliging friends who 
subsequently informed me I was delirious 
for several days, and talked a great deal of 
nonsense ; a feat often performed, I have 
since had occasion to remark, by people in 
the enjoyment of thoroughly sound health. 

The first evidence of having recovered my 
senses which I gave was trying to rise and 
dress, in order to assist in the discomfiture 
of Montfort ; but as I fainted in this en- 
deavour, and as, moreover, the jury were 
deliberating on their verdict at that very 
time, I made no subsequent attempt to ap- 
pear in the case. 

By slow degrees I realized that weeks had 
gone by whilst I lay unconscious of their 
passage, that Eose's honeymoon must be 
over, that as things rush on now-a-days, my 
trouble was an old one, that my former 
life with its hopes, its fantasies, its fears, its 



My Last Love, 



struggles, was at an end, and that if I were 
to do any good for myself or others in the 
future life, which I could not help living, I 
must try to forget everything connected with 
that past existence — even the sound of the 
busy mill wheel and the still beauty of the 
woods through which, when the white 
flowers of the wild anemone carpeted them, 
Eose and I had wandered hand-in-hand to- 
gether. 

My mistress was gone — and I knew that 
if I searched the wide world through I 
should never find another love, that could be 
my love, just as she had been — but after all 
I whispered to myself, when at length I 
felt strong enough to take courage and look 
out over the days that were still to be gone 
through, ^'Love is not all — it is not every- 
thing." 

And so far I was right— but ah ! friends, 
I know now love is a great deal. Never- 
theless, whether the day be cheered by sun- 
shine or darkened by clouds, it has to be got 



After Her Marriage, 



through, and it is as well to accept what- 
ever sort of weather God send with decent 
propriety. 

My day had opened with the loss of Eose 
— and what a loss that was I may never 
hope to tell ; but once I was strong enough, 
to consider the position, I determined not to 
let my sorrow master me. 

There were various ways in which I 
could have shown my regret and evinced the 
grief I experienced. For example, I might 
have enlisted; for some inscrutable reason 
men have been known ere now to adopt this 
mode of comfort ; I could have cut my throat, 
and so contributed many paragraphs to the 
newspaper literature of the country — further, 
it was competent for me to try whether strong 
waters might not produce the same effect as 
those of Lethe ; or to shut myself up like 
persons I had then read of, and whose dupli- 
cates I have since known ; or to plunge into 
what people vaguely term a vortex of dissi- 
pation ; or to indulge in unlimited tobacco. 



8 My Last Love. 

« 
accompanied by unlimited beer — the means 

required for obtaining such consolations not 
being excessive. But as neither enlisting, 
nor suicide, nor intemperance, nor eccentri- 
city, was likely to give me back Eose, and 
further I had parents to assist, and brothers 
and sisters to push on in the world, I 
thought it best to continue in the course I 
had begun, and to proceed along the road I 
was previously travelling — only without 
Eose. 

Only ! well — well — in every life there is 
its ^^but," and its ^4f," and its ^^only." 

It was in the cottage near Southgate I 
fully regained my strength, for when once 
I could bear the jolting, my mother and 
Joan moved me there. IN'ever shall I forget 
the delicious languor — the luxurious idle- 
ness of the days and weeks which followed. 
Although at first I could scarcely endure to 
look upon the face of JN'ature, by reason of 
the memories she recalled, yet when she 
came to me as she did, after a time, beauti- 



After Her Marriage. 



ful as ever, dressed in her robes of richest 
green, with flowers in her hands, and buds 
in her hair, with the lovely tints of spring 
on her face, and smiles playing in her eyes, 
I yielded myself to the seductions of old, 
and lay on the green sward, blessing the 
bright May time, while the wandering 
breezes scented with hawthorn, and the 
delicate fragrance of the wild dog roses 
kissed my forehead and caressed my cheek. 

I got well there— slowly but surely I 
stole back to health, and then in the glad 
summer weather what walks Joan and the 
children and I had together ! 

There is not an inch of all that neighbour- 
hood I could not traverse blindfold at this 
moment, unless indeed it might be the 
country near Colney Hatch and Wood Green, 
where I am told a town has sprung up ; 
where, in place of blackberries, there are 
plantations of bricks and mortar, and instead 
of wide common lands little suburban houses 
with a patch of garden in front, protected from 



lo My Last Love, 

the tread of profane feet, by iron railings, 
all of one pattern, and all painted one 
colour. 

But those winding lanes, those unexpected 
fields paths, shall I ever forget their peace- 
ful beauty ? I am old now, and the past 
may return to me no more ; but yet as I 
write there comes back a not unpleasant 
memory, nothing more, alas ! of the strength 
I possessed when we used to pace under the 
arching trees of a certain lane leading off 
to Berry Street, or when in a borrowed 
phaeton I was wont to drive Joan around by 
Chingford church, the old church I mean, 
and along to the Forest, by roads, the very 
thought of which touches something in my 
heart, the exact nature of which I shall 
never be able to define, unless in another 
world we are as capable of describing our 
feelings as we are of realizing them in this. 

It was during that long holiday, also, that 
I first fully comprehended the treasure God 
had given us all in Joan. If the little 



After Her Marriage, 1 1 

cottage were a very bower of prettiness, it 
was to Joan it owed its beauty. Under her 
the younger fry worked with a will. It was 
very funny to hear Joan talk to them as 
though they had all emigrated to Australia, 
and were really in a strange land, settlers 
to whom nothing they had to do ought to 
come amiss. Two of the boys were already 
in situations, and after their morals and 
comforts the old lady in Queen Anne Street 
was supposed to look with anxious attention 
for six days out of the seven ; but once the 
seventh day came, or rather the evening of 
the seventh, it might have made an old man 
young again to hear the voices of those lads 
as they went about the cottage and the 
farm, shouting to the smaller fry and whist- 
ling to the dogs, and halloaing with all the 
mighty power of their strong lungs. 

I thought with Eose the whole happiness 
of my life had evaporated, leaving behind 
it nothing save what was stale, flat, and un- 
profitable ; but I know now that though my 



12 My Last Love. 

love was gone, my capability for enjoyment 
was left, and that, although I had my moods 
and tenses of deep depression and profound 
melancholy, still I enjoyed that summer very 
fairly. 

For one thing I had not yet quite realized, 
what all the days of my life without Eose 
meant; for another, though I beheld her 
"Walter Surry's wife, I had not entirely 
grasped the fact that I could never again 
have either part or lot in her. There is 
nothing so difficult to believe in as a 
certainty, till we have lived long enough to 
feel it is a certainty, and not a delusion. 

Tor example, who that has lost any loved 
object by means of death, ever, even in the first 
agony of grief, grasps just what it all means 
then, all it must mean in the futui-e ? Say, 
a child has passed to the eternal shores, do 
you suppose father or mother quite under- 
stands the void that will be left ? The tiny 
hands are still, the ' pattering feet quiet, 
the prattling tongue mute, the place it occu- 



Afte7' He7' Marriage, 



pied empty ; but the knowledge of all this 
comes happily by degrees, just as when a 
man's wife dies he scarcely at first com- 
prehends how keenly he may subsequently 
feel her loss — say, for instance, in the matter 
of buttons. 

•And in those days when I walked round 
Enfield Chase, and mooned about Wincli- 
more Hill, when I became acquainted with 
grassy lanes, where the convolvulus climbed 
and the brambles trailed, when I crossed 
every ford, and knew every field path, 
thorough knowledge had not come to me of 
how desolate a thing life — even a successful 
life — might prove without Eose. 

Yaguely, I imagine, there had sprung up 
a hope in my heart, that if I worked hard 
and made a name, Eose might still be mine. 
As it is a simple impossibility ever to per- 
suade a disinherited man that a dozen lives 
will not fall in, and the coveted property ulti- 
mately revert to him, so I was wont to picture 
plague, pestilence, and famine let loose, in 



14 My Last Love. 

order that "Walter Surry might be removed 
from the earth, and I get mine own again. 

He hunts, I thought, and men have often 
been killed by taking an awkward leap with 
an awkward horse ; he shoots, it may be he 
will meet his end in one of his owq pre- 
serves : he has a yacht, it may go to the 
bottom : he drives fast and furiously, some 
day perchance his fiery steeds may carry 
him to his death. Ideas such as these 
floated through my mind, whilst it never 
occurred to me that death might develope a 
fancy for me, or fall in love to more purpose 
than I had done with Eose — my Eose no 
longer. 

It was not right, I knew, to picture 
Walter Surry dead, his wife a widow ; and 
yet I imagine thoughts of the possibilities I 
have hinted at, broke the force of my fall. 
I was not cast out of the seventh heaven of 
my fool's paradise with never a straw to 
grasp at, and when I did reach the earth 
paradise was so far away, and the realities 



After Her Marriage. 15 

of existence so urgently claiming attention, 
that I was fain to regard the story of ^ My 
First Love,' which has been already told, 
as a sort of fairy tale that could never have 
had any tangible connection with my prosaic 
life. 

She was gone. As one wakes in the 
morning, to find the fairest dream vanish 
with the first touch of light, so I awoke by 
degrees to a comprehension that Eose and I 
were parted for ever — that she could no 
merer be my love than the dream could be 
dreamt over again, or the vision beheld a 
second time. 

It seems to me only yesterday that I first 
saw her driving in the Park with her hus- 
band, — looking lovely, of course, and happy 
also. 

I drew back behind a tree, so that her 
eyes might not rest on me, and when their 
carriage had passed, I walked off in an 
opposite direction, feeling as though I had 
received a stab, and were bleeding in- 
ternally. 



1 6 My Last Love. 

But time went by, and I grew accustomed 
to that spectacle; aye, even when I saw 
her fondling her boy — his son, I can honestly 
say my heart held a blessing for mother and 
child, though at the moment the waters of my 
life seemed bitter to me as those of Marah. 

But I anticipate, and this is a fault in story- 
telling, critics say — which is probably true, 
since it would be expecting too much to 
suppose they should ever read a tale with 
sufficient attention to discriminate between 
the actual present and the indicated future. 



17 



CHAPTER II. 



I PROPOSE. 



So I went hack to my chambers, my law 
hooks, and, after a time, to my writing. 
For a while it pleased me to put my 
thoughts on paper, to the end that Eose 
might read them ; but soon — recollecting 
what a little goose she had always been, 
and how she required some one beside her 
to explain the meaning of the simplest ideas, 
to translate as it might be the hard words 
of a foreign tongue into commonplace En- 
glish, to convert the guineas of great minds 
into the more familiar shillings and pence 
of ordinary exchange, — I gave up walking 

YOL. III. c 



1 8 My Last Love. 

on stilts, well knowing that Eose would 
only wonder wliat I could be doing up 
there, and finally began to write for that 
for which, sooner or later, all men and all 
women do write, — namely, money. 

I needed money both personally and for 
the sake of my family. What my father 
had saved out of the wreck of his fortunes 
was almost exhausted, and though it is a 
hard thing for a man to contemplate sup- 
porting father and mother, brothers and 
sisters, still it was just then the work lying 
to my hand, and I took it accordingly. 

The taste which first leaves a parent 
chargeable to the parish, and then refuses to 
pay the parish for keeping him, has never 
seemed to me exactly good ; and, although 
I am aware there are diversities of opinion 
on this point, and that I have been often 
called a fool for my pains even by the wife 
of my bosom, still I venture difiidently to 
state, that I do not think I am in any way 
the poorer now because, to the best of my 



I Propose, 19 



limited ability, I helped to keep a roof over 
the heads of my father and mother, and to 
enable the younger children to provide for 
themselyes. Some of the latter have done 
well and some ill, as must always be the 
case in large families. We have ne'er-do- 
wells amongst our girls' husbands, and 
wasters amongst our boys, but there is no 
grave — for we have our dead — which I need 
avoid passing by reason of remembered neg- 
lect or coldness. 

The worst trial we had amongst them all 
was Stephen, but he died with his head on 
Joan's shoulder, and his hand clasping mine. 
I did my best for them all, and though 
sometimes I think that best might have 
been better, had I either not married at all 
or married differently — still I cannot be 
quite sure — and as I did marry my wife 
there can be no earthly use in speculating 
upon the question. 

The way I came to marry her was, that 
it seemed to be expected of me. People 

c2 



20 My Last Love. 



may say this is no valid reason for taking a 
wife — but thousands of men marry for no 
other. There is a great deal of talk about 
love at the present time — more than there 
used to be in the days when youths and 
maidens had better opportunities of seeing 
one another, and grew fonder accordingly ; 
but looking round on my acquaintances 
and observing men's wives, I can come to 
no other conclusion than that partners for 
life are selected much after the fashion in 
which a house is taken. 

For some reason or other a wife is desired, 
and if a man cannot just find what he 
wants or what suits him, or that somebody 
else steps in and takes it over his head, he 
puts up with what he can get. And 
perhaps in time the wife, being his own, he 
comes to like her — or, perhaps, being his 
own, he grows to dislike her — anyhow, the 
choice has been made and the woman taken, 
and then there being no help for it, when 
we see a poor wretch trying vainly to make 



/ Propose. 2 1 



the best of a bad bargain, we insist with a 
bitter irony that he married for love. 

I did not at any rate — and yet society 
has always been good enough to suppose so 
— to think me such a fool, in fact, as to ima- 
gine had I married for love I should not 
have married something very different. 
There are people who even now admire Mrs. 
Luttrell — vastly — she is younger than I, and 
has worn considerably better. Some ten 
years ago her portrait appeared on the Aca- 
demy walls, and she really looked hand- 
somer then than T had ever thought her be- 
fore, which might certainly be owing to the 
artist's kindness. That portrait now hangs 
in a recess on one side of our dining-room 
mantelpiece, and always seems looking round 
into the other in search of another portrait, 
which shall never be painted, that of your 
humble servant ; and I will say it is a tole- 
rably faithful likeness of a lady most men 
might be proud of calling wife. 

She is what is generally known as a " fine 



22 My Last Love, 

woman " (I wonder men will use tlie phrase 
or women tolerate it), large, with a certain 
stateliness of carriage and empressement of 
manner. Girls, looking at her with a certain 
awe, think her, nevertheless, delightful ; but 
boys, amongst whom the bump of reverence 
is not so largely developed as is the case 
with their sisters, never seem to feel quite 
at ease in her presence. 

During the whole of our married life her 
prudence and discretion have been beyond 
all praise. Admired, she has yet not flirted, 
and I have never lost five minutes of my 
natural rest owing to any jealous misgivings 
concerning her. Further, she has borne me 
sons and daughters — two of the former and 
three of the latter — and has ruled my house- 
hold, if not — well, shall we say econo- 
mically — at least with a due regard to what 
the world expected from people in our 
position. Perhaps, indeed, with an over 
regard; but it would be ungenerous to carp 
at trifles, or to blame a lady for keeping up 



/ Propose. 23 



with the pace of the times in which her lot 
has been cast. 

"With one exception also, we have never 
quarrelled. We have been admirably polite 
and discreetly fond; all things, therefore, 
considered, as marriages go, I did not marry 
amiss, but it would be folly to say it was a 
love match. 

No. I considered Miss Sherlock a good, 
handsome, young lady, who made herself 
immensely agreeable to me, and whose 
father, mother, brothers, sisters, uncles, 
aunts, friends, acquaintances, and self, 
thought I ought to propose for her. Which 
after much delay and consideration, and 
many doubts as to my own prudence, I 
did. 

We will pause here for a moment if you 
please, dear reader, and argue this matter a 
little out. We can do so with perfect im- 
punity, since my wife is not aware I am the 
aut hor of this true tale, and if she were she 
would not read it. Years ago, indeed, she 



24 M^y Last Love. 

used to devour every line I wrote, but that 
was in the days when she had an object to 
gain by such unwonted mental exercise, and 
having gained her object, she is little likely 
to retraverse the means used to compass it. 

I had doubts as to my prudence, if you 
remember ; those doubts are now certainties. 
Better have waited — better have murmured 
no word of love till something like the old 
feeling stirred within me again. It may be 
— God knows I have never seen her — that 
somewhere on the world's wide surface I 
might have met another Eose, whom I could 
have gathered and won. 

I have a fancy that a man's first chance is 
not necessarily his last, and this idea, though 
unwarranted by my own experience, has yet 
received considerable confirmation from the 
experience of others. 

Women tell me that they were first wooed 
because they recalled some long ago memory. 
Men say they chose because there was a 
tone, a look, a gesture, a smile which 



/ Propose. 



reminded them of the dream -love departed. 
If I went wooing again — which Heaven 
forbid — I do not think I should mention to 
Grace the charm I find in her golden tresses 
is their resemblance to those which a quarter 
of a century ago constituted the chief beauty 
of Maud ; yet such confidences are vouch- 
safed to the beloved objects, and as a rule 
during courtship they do not resent it ; the 
words uttered and the remarks made in the 
Hades of Matrimony, it is impossible to con- 
jecture, for from that bourne no traveller 
returns ; the secrets of that Afterwards are 
never revealed save in the Divorce Court 
— and there but imperfectly. 

My impression, however, is, that if the 
man be wise^ he consigns Maud's memory 
to oblivion when he weds Grace — but of 
course I cannot tell. 

All I do know is, that even had Miss 
Sherlock resembled Eose, I should have 
maintained a discreet silence on the subject. 
But she did not resemble her in the least. 



26 My Last Love, 

And this it seems to me now was just my 
mistake. Given tliat I married at all, I 
should have married some one like Eose, 
whom I could have loved, first for the old 
love's sake, and afterwards drawn closer and 
closer to my heart for her own. A man's 
first love is his ideal love, and the real 
should always come as near the ideal as 
may be. 

Sometimes — mine has been a lonely life, 
mentally I mean most part of it — sometimes 
when I am walking along the streets, or 
sitting here in my chambers, or indulging — 
slippers on my feet and the ^ Times ' ready 
to my hand — in that mild cigar against 
which Mrs. Luttrell inveighs as is the fashion 
of ladies after marriage, I wonder whether 
there be not in some remote district, or wast- 
ing her sweetness in the populous solitude 
of a London street, a second Eose whose life 
might have been all the happier had we met 
and married, whose fragrance would have 
been precious to me, whom I could have 



/ Propose. 27 



tended with loving care, who would have 
proved the blessing of my life, who could 
have supplied just that something my 
existence has always lacked, who would 
have seemed the dear house angel, for whose 
fluttering dress and soft clinging arms and 
gentle caresses my soul has longed in the 
house of her earthly bondage. 

And this feeling does not arise from any 
sort of conceit, or over-weening idea of my 
own capacity for making a woman happy. 
It is just that I think there must be some 
place — a heart now broken, possibly, that 
would have understood the workings of mine 
— a woman who might under different cir- 
cumstances have glided to my vacant hearth, 
and kindled there a fire which should not 
have been extinguished till my pulses were 
stilled for ever ; whilst I in my turn could 
have filled a void in her life, shielded her, 
sheltered her, kept her safe within my arms 
from sorrow and sin, from trouble and regret. 

She may have, or may not have had an 



My Last Love. 



existence, this second Eose, but it has never 
fallen to my lot to behold her ; thank God. 

Being married, I say this out of the depth 
of my gratitude, for had we met, there would 
then have begun one of those struggles from 
which let a man flee never so soon, never so 
far, he is sure to come forth worsted. As it 
is, I can truthfully declare I know no woman 
I like in the least degree better than my wife. 
Save once she never had any reason to com- 
plain of any one stepping between us and 
stealing away my affections, and on that occa- 
sion she mistook the position as ladies un- 
blessed by a real grievance are often apt to do. 

''I have been the best of husbands," so 
Mrs. Sherlock always kindly informs me, 
when her nature is softened and her heart 
opened by that Christmas cheer — which for- 
tunately for her digestion comes but once a 
year, — ^' I cannot tell you how grateful I feel 
to God for having been so good to — " 

Whereat I step back guiltily, feeling that 
from my point of view, I have not been a 



/ Propose. 



good husband, and that God, Whose blessing 
the old lady invokes as usual when we part 
after the festive meeting, which always takes 
place at Mr. Sherlock's house on the 25th of 
December — knows it. 

They think I have done my best — done 
more, perhaps, than most — but conscience 
fails for a few hours to be quieted, never- 
theless. I strive to think I have given my 
wife all she wanted, all she cared for, or 
could understand ; but Imowing with what 
a capacity for domestic happiness Heaven 
gifted me, spite of the cold cheerless, unsatis- 
factory life I have led, I turn away from my 
own sophistry appalled at the bare idea of a 
flower which never longed for the sunbeams 
to fall on it ; of a human being who should 
be quite content to pass through this world 
without craving for that fulness of bliss that 
can be contained only in one sentence — ^^ I 
love — I am beloved." 

It is quite in vain I tell myself she knows 
no better, for at all events I should have 



30 My Last Love. 

tried to teach her — I, whose wooing was of 
the calmest description, and who had won 
her consent long before I thought it worth 
my while to ask for it. 

How she, or any woman, could ever have 
been satisfied with such love-making by 
such a lover baffles my comprehension, but 
then Catharine Sherlock had no knowledge 
of that sweet folly in which Eose and I 
indulged when we strolled through fields 
yellow with buttercups, or stood idly by the 
rippling river. First a London nursery, 
then a school-room presided over by a strict 
governess, kept duly up to the mark by a 
still stricter mother ; then a finishing semi- 
nary, then London parties, London acquaint- 
ances, London amusements — the usual sort 
of life led by girls of her rank, and also of a 
much higher rank in London — that was her 
experience ; never a child — never a girl — 
she, I will be bound had always from her 
babyhood upwards behaved herself as a 
'' young lady" should. 



/ Propose. 3 1 



She would have delighted the heart of 
Lady Surry, and yet I am much mistaken if 
when her own mother looked upon the work 
of her hands, she felt quite satisfied with it. 

Mrs. Sherlock's work never satisfied me ; 
so, perhaps, I maybe considered slightly 
prejudiced in the matter. 

Speaking from experience, I should say, 
there is no house which a man about to 
marry, or likely ever to be in a position to 
marry, should shun like that inhabited by 
Paterfamilias blessed with a family of hand- 
some grown and growing up daughters. 
With one daughter the net is spread in sight 
of the bird, but with several he is lured on 
with successive crumbs, until lo I a con- 
straining hand is felt, and he understands 
the moment of his capture has arrived. 

I walked into the snare with my eyes 
wide open. I said to myself no woman 
should ever hear a word of love from me 
again, and feeling myself so utterly heart- 
whole, or rather utterly heart-wrecked, I 



^2 My Last Love. 

gradually dropped into my old relations with 
the Sherlock family; dined with them on 
Sundays occasionally, dropped in frequently, 
^^ when passing," in the evenings ; escorted 
the '' girls " and their mamma to flower- 
shows ; got boxes for the opera, and duly ap- 
peared there once more dancing attendance 
on the Sherlocks. I cannot, looking back 
upon the whole business, now imagine what 
possessed me to be so foolish. I cannot con- 
ceive why I went to the Sherlocks, unless, 
indeed, it might be that having all my life 
been accustomed to female society, I welcomed 
their sort of companionship when a better 
was beyond my reach. 

There is something charming to a parti- 
cular class of mind about the mere chatter 
of a lot of women ; something in the grace 
and refinement of calm home life irresistible 
to mei^ of a certain nature. 

After my hard work — for I did work 
hard even in those days, though not with 
that persistent labour which success has 



/ Propose. 33 



since necessitated — the sight of the girls in 
their pretty muslin dresses ; the perfume of 
the flowers in the drawing-room, and the 
sound of their grand piano, on which Julia, 
the youngest, was no mean performer ; the 
talk about trifles ; about the little odds and 
ends that make up the sum and substance 
of a fortunate woman's life ; all those things, 
I say, were pleasant to me ; they were the 
vague reflex of a home I had left ; the dim 
realization of an ideal home I was never 
destined to possess ; and, as we love the 
sound of a familiar air, even though it be 
sung by an indifferent performer, so this 
similitude, unsatisfactory as it might be, of 
an imaginary Paradise, lured me on, lured 
me from my dull chambers to the abode of 
Mr. Sherlock, where, sooth to say, my wel- 
come was ever of the most cordial description. 
As has been previously intimated, Mr. 
Sherlock formed a high estimate of my 
chances of success at a very early period of 
our acquaintance, and assuredly it was not 

VOL. III. D 



34 ^y Last Love, 



his fault that I failed to command fortune 
at an earlier period of this story. 

A shrewd individual, and blessed with so 
many daughters that he could afford to 
bestow them without sorrow on likely 
husbands more easily than dower them with 
sufficient wealth to ensure their being able 
possessed of a good competence to roam 
through life in maiden meditation, fancy 
free, he looked on every man he met with a 
sort of double interest. 

The new-comer might be a possible lover 
or a probable client. Supposing him unlikely 
to become the last, Mr. Sherlock was willing 
to take into consideration his means of sus- 
taining the first character ; and, given that 
he could not be the first, Mr. Sherlock had 
no objection to entertaining him well, in faith 
that after many days his bread should be 
found again. 

If a new acquaintance seemed able and 
willing to play both characters, then, of 
course, Mr. Sherlock opened his arms to 



/ Propose. 35 



Mm all the more readily ; but prizes of this 
description are not frequently landed on the 
matrimonial shore, and none of the Misses 
Sherlock married quite as in my opinion 
they ought to have done, considering the 
numerous " advantages," social, educational, 
and moral, which they had enjoyed. 

In other words, calculating the amount of 
capital sunk in them, I think the young 
ladies did not return a fair amount of in- 
terest ; but, after all, there is three per cent, 
certain, and an hundred per cent, risky; 
wherefore, perhaps, Mr. Sherlock's daughters 
were just as safe on their comparatively 
limited incomes as they might have been 
had they shot up matrimonially like rockets, 
only to the end that they might come down 
again like sticks. 

All this long digression is intended to 
explain how it happened that Mr. and Mrs. 
Sherlock took kindly to me, and made no 
sort of objection when in due time. Miss 
Sherlock took more kindly still. I^either 



36 My Last Love. 

were they, after the fashion of the parents 
mentioned in Alan-a-Dale, steel and stone 
when, after much exercise of spirit, I asked 
them to make me the happiest man in 
England. 

They never ^'lifted the latch, and bade 
me begone." They only said they gave 
dear Catharine to me in the fullest con- 
fidence. I have often wished since their 
faith had been less, or my good qualities 
not so apparent. 

Not unwarned, either, did I walk into the 
noose matrimonial; on the contrary, my 
mother frequently trusted that I would 
not marry or engage myself precipitately. 
She did not approve of early marriages 
unless suitable in every respect ; she thought 
a rising man should wait until he attained a 
certain position before choosing, and so 
forth; while Joan openly hoped I never 
would make that odious Miss Sherlock her 
sister-in-law. 

As for the old lady in Queen Anne Street, 
she rather encouraged the idea. IsTow her 



/ Propose. 37 



money was gone, she felt thankful for such 
slight attentions as the Sherlocks con- 
siderately showed her; further, other ac- 
quaintances having cooled and dropped off, 
she delighted in the Sherlocks' visits, which 
broke the monotony of her life, and brought 
to her very arm-chair news and gossip which 
she could by no other manner of means have 
contrived to hear. 

^^It will be a very good match for you 
indeed," Mrs. Graham was wont to remark, 
and when I replied — 

" I have no intention of marrying at all," 
she shook her head gravely, and said '•'- she 
trusted I did not mean to wear the willow 
all my life for the sake of a girl who evi- 
dently had not cared twopence about me." 
Further, she expressed her belief that if I 
did not marry Miss Sherlock, I ought to 
marry her ; and that if I had not proposed 
for her, or did not propose soon, those con- 
sequences which were sure to ensue would 
be fully deserved by me. 



38 My Last Love, 

To what consequences Mrs. Graham re- 
ferred I have not to this moment an idea ; 
but still, these vague hints of something 
fearful looming in the future filled me with 
a terrible alarm — all the greater, perhaps, by 
reason of its very vagueness. 

Fact is, I had long been drifting down 
that river which falls into the matrimonial 
sea — drifting too, without excuse, merely 
because I was too cowardly and too irreso- 
lute to take oar and pull back against the 
stream. 

When I thought of Mrs. Sherlock's black 
looks, and the '' explanation " on which Mr. 
Sherlock would naturally insist — when I 
considered the time Miss Sherlock had 
wasted upon my unworthy self, and reflected 
concerning the strictures of her friends,, 
who would' be sure to say, and justly, 
that I had used her shamefully — retreat 
seemed impossible. 

I was not afraid of a ''breach of promise " 
action. Even had such cases been as common 



/ Propose, 39 

then as they are now, Mr. Sherlock was much 
too wise a man and considerate a father to 
risk damaging his daughters' future by any 
proceedings of that nature ; but I was afraid 
I had so far committed myself, that nothing 
remained save for me to proceed further, and 
commit myself yet more. 

That the Sherlocks expected me to pro- 
pose, was patent to the meanest comprehen- 
sion. Often her sisters — evidently instructed 
so to do — left us alone together, and there 
are no more fearful memories in my life than 
that of those half-hours when Catharine and 
I talked on indifferent subjects — she mo- 
mentarily anticipating the coming of my 
request, and I knowing she was waiting for 
it. 

Those sisters — once more, young man, 
strong in your youth and your vanity, avoid 
a house where there are daughters — were as 
so many nails in my coffin. Whenever one 
seemed loose, they struck it on the head, 
and drove it home. Without their help, 



40 My Last Love, 

Catharine Sherlock had never become my 
wife — with it, I am her most devoted 
husband. 

At last I did it ; I felt happier after, for 
the deed was accomplished — the matter off 
my mind. And the time and the manner 
was as follows : — 

Finding their house in Upper Malcolm 
Street too small, ostensibly for their family — 
but, really, too small for the enlarging views 
of that family — Mr. Sherlock took a house 
in Huntingdon Square. Perhaps, reader, 
you may chance to know it, but, for the 
benefit of those who do not, I will state that 
it lies in what is now the I^orth Western 
District of London — very West of North 
indeed ; that it is out of the way of every 
place; that even at this present hour it is 
fairly fashionable, and altogether, and in all 
respects, it was eminently unsuitable for a 
professional man blessed with a very certain 
number of girls, whose fortunes were en- 
tirely dependent on his exertions. 



/ Propose. 41 



However, Mr. Sherlock took the house, 
and Mrs. Sherlock gave a large party in 
honour of their entering into possession, to 
which I was duly bidden. 

Never had Catharine looked to such ad- 
vantage. Amongst a number of pretty girls, 
she was the prettiest — decidedly the belle of 
the room. So I heard people observing as 
we whirled round to the music of one of 
Schubert's waltzes. 

"What a handsome couple!" "En- 
gaged." "When is it to be?" These 
sentences were spoken in loud whispers, 
and, after T had led Miss Sherlock to a seat, 
one gentleman, an old attorney, whose good- 
will I was anxious to conciliate, seized me 
by the hand, and asked if he might con- 
gratulate me ? 

"Not yet," I answered; "but I hope 
some day." And then I determined to 
make the plunge that night, and, as every 
one expected me to propose, fulfil those 
natural anticipations. 



42 My Last Love. 



But for the ball-dress, and the lights, and 
the music, and the dancing, and the — cham- 
pagne — I do not think I could have done it 
after all ; but she looked so soft and graceful, 
and feminine, in her skirts, and puffings, and 
ribbons, and flowers, that for the time the 
other figure, which rarely left me, yanished 
away, and I saw nothing but a beautiful 
woman, who loved me as much as she could 
love anything, and who, in answer to my 
whispered " Catharine," blushed crimson, 
but never withdrew her hand. 

We were standing at the moment in a 
conservatory, the plants in which formed 
a sort of screen between us and the ball- 
room. 

I can see it all now — Catharine, for the 
first time, timid, and a little shrinking — the 
dancers going as fast as their legs could 
carry them, whilst the band played ^^The 
Spirit of the Ball." I see the aloes and the 
orange-trees, through the branches of which 
there peeps for a moment the half-angry 



/ Propose. 43. 



face of a girl, between whom and myself 
there have been' certain small flirtations 
on occasions like the present. I loosen 
Catharine's hand, and lay mine on my heart 
to induce the girl to think I had been only 
playing at love-making; then the face 
vanishes, and I draw near again, and say, 
" We were watched, Catharine — I may call 
you so, may I not ?" 

She says nothing, for this is not a pro- 
posal, and the young lady has been well 
trained, so I proceed to extremities, and ask 
if some day she will let me call her "wife V 
which being definite enough in all con- 
science, she murmurs ''yes," and ''papa." 

And thus I became engaged, for it is 
needless to remark that "papa," whose 
consent I asked before leaving the house, 
was more than willing, while mamma and 
the girls — not including Catharine — kissed 
me at parting; but the next day I went 
into the park, and stood in a retired place 
till I saw Walter Surry's carriage pass. 



44 ^^y Last Love, 

Then I said to myself, ^^ Good-bye, dear 
love — good-bye, bright dream," and turned 
me to the new life, into which I swore no 
thought of Eose Surry should enter. 



45 



CHAPTEE III. 

THE " HAPPIEST DAY OF I^IY LIFE." 

"We were not married so soon as I could 
have wished, for Mr. Sherlock thought I 
had better get a little ^^ before the world'' 
ere taking unto myself a wife, and it is only 
a just testimony to the admirable prudence 
and wisdom of my fiancee^ to add that she 
thought so too. 

Now, being '^before the world" meant, 
in Mr. Sherlock's dictionary, a certain sum 
of money so invested as to be easily got at 
if need arose, say at profitable interest in 
the three per cents. ; a policy of assurance, 
and a well-furnished house, freehold if pos- 



46 My Last Love, 

sible, if not leasehold at a nominal rent ; but 
in consideration of the fact that I had still 
my way to push, and had every prospect of 
pushing it to some purpose, he consented to 
waive the three per cents, and freehold 
business, and only stipulated that I should 
insure my life in some sound office, approved 
by him, and provide a comfortable home for 
Catharine before I married her. 

When a man chances to be the over- 
worked father of many daughters, it is 
natural that he should dread any one of them 
coming home empty-handed in the event of 
widowhood ; and had Catharine been called 
upon in the early days of our married life to 
weep beside my death-bed, as I doubt not 
she would have done most decorously, I can 
fancy comfort mingling with her grief at 
thought of that three thousand pounds, on 
which the poor dear fellow had only paid 
one premium. 

Whether, before the day of his marriage, 
it is exactly pleasant that a man shall be 



The ^' Happiest Day of my LifeP 47 

compelled to contemplate as an imminent 
possibility the day of his death, is a question 
on which I do not now propose to enter. 
For my own part, I have always believed 
that fathers-in-law elect receive a commission 
from the insurance companies, and that in 
this way, inverting Shakespeare, the pro- 
spective funeral meats furnish forth the 
present bridal feast; but then as my wife 
says, I am peculiar, which may well be, 
though Heaven knows I do not think I am 
one half so peculiar as the men and the 
women amongst whom my lot is cast. 

Further, she says I was always peculiar, 
which also may well be, seeing I insured my 
life in the interests of — furnished a house to 
please the tastes of — and finally married — a 
woman for whom I can honestly declare I 
cared no more, or rather less, than I do for 
the lady who may read this paragraph, since 
the latter does me the honour to scan what 
I have written, while my wife decidedly 
prefers the works of those popular authors 
whom she knows only by repute. 



48 My Last Love. 

No man, somebody says, is a hero to his 
valet de cliamhre. I am sure no writer is to 
his home circle, save by virtue of the pounds, 
shillings and pence his writings produce. 

^^How much are you to have for that, 
dear?" says Fond Affection, sitting by the 
hearth; and when you inform her, she 
replies, evidently liking the sum, but con- 
sidering it beyond your deserts — 

^' I wish I could write ;" implying there- 
by that if she merely possessed your fool- 
ish knack of authorship, she could produce 
something worth buying. 

'-'- 1 wish you could," says the unfortunate 
hack in answer, thinking at the same time 
if she were able to indite anything besides 
an ungrammatical letter, she would under- 
stand what weary work it all is, what tiring, 
unsatisfactory, never-ending, always begin- 
ning work it seems, once the glamour is 
removed, and the illusory mist of distance 
dispelled, and a man comes to understand 
the exact meaning of the word author, as 



The ^^ Happiest Day 0/ my Life^ 49 

leamt from long and close personal ex- 
perience with it. 

But I wander away from the Life Policy, 
which — after making various statements 
about my father and mother, and brothers 
and sisters, and being kneaded and pounded 
all over by a terrible man with knuckles 
like the pebbles wherewith David slew 
Goliath, who wormed the secret of my 
engagement out of me, and then grew 
maddeningly facetious over it — was duly 
effected. 

For over twenty years I have paid that 
premium, and grumbled about doing it. 

"But then you might have died," says 
the secretary, with whom I have the honour 
of being acquainted. 

"But I haven't," I suggest. 

'^Are you sorry?'' he asks. 

"Well, upon the whole, 'yes.' I think I 
should like to have had my innings out of 
something, even an insurance office." 

VOL. ni. E 



50 My Last Love, 

'^ Ah ! Mr. Luttrell, just the same as ever," 
he remarks. 

'^ Just the same," I agree, and walk out 
of the office, muttering to myself, however, 
"Just the same Luttrell circumstances made 
me, but not the Luttrell I should have been, 
taking Eose to wife without any of these 
accursed preliminaries." 

That is the difference, you perceive, 
between marrying one's first love, and 
forming a matrimonial alliance with one's 
second. 

The first is apple blossom and moonshine 
— murmuring streams and the sweetest 
ballad in the world, as it seemed then, as it 
seems still to memory. The second is a 
carpet warehouse — wholesale if possible — 
one of Collard's pianos, procured through a 
professional friend at ostensibly trade prices; 
a house Lord So-and-So would have taken 
had there only been sufficient accommoda- 
tion for his domestics, and the means of 
giving one party at least every season so 



The ''^Happiest Day of my LifeP 51 

thronged, that numbers were unable ' to 
ascend the staircase. All this Catharine has 
compassed, and I can only hope she is satis- 
fied with it. I am not quite ; but then, as 
the treasure of my heart remarks, she does 
not know what would satisfy me. 

Nor do I — though, perhaps, looking back 
I have a fancy what might have once — but 
then, who can tell ? 

Better, possibly, for me and my darling 
that we separated while the dew still 
trembled on the flowers. I might not have 
made her so happy as I would. And some- 
times, sitting here alone, I think that if the 
sorrow I can remember stamped upon her 
face, the tears I have seen her shed, had 
been caused by any act of mine, I could not 
bear the curse of life, but just end it with as 
little unnecessary pain to my family and 
myself as might be. 

But I was to forget Eose, or at least to 
cease dreaming about, and speaking of her ; 
both of which feats I might have performed 

e2 

UNIVERSITY Of 



52 My Last Love. 

more easily, had Mr. Sherlock permitted me 
to marry earlier and with less fuss concern- 
ing ways and means. As it chanced, the 
contrast between the things Catharine con- 
sidered essentials, and the modest content- 
ment of Sir Humphrey Surry's daughter, kept 
the old sore open. I felt, by reason of the 
amount of outfit required, that I was about 
taking a journey into a very strange and 
inhospitable land, the ways of which were 
not my ways, the inhabitants of which 
believed not in such matters as love and 
pure simplicity, but worshipped rather 
society and Mrs. Grundy, and were in- 
credulous concerning happiness that rented 
a house at a lower sum than the social trade 
union had fixed on as the smallest a gentle- 
man might pay. 

Nevertheless, I never swerved in my 
fidelity to Miss Sherlock. Never once did a 
thought of selling off my poor worldly 
effects, paying my few debts, taking my 
passage to America, and placing the At- 



The *^ Happiest Day of my LifeP 53 

lantic between me and my charmer, cross 
my mind. 

I meant to marry, and to push my way 
up, for the sake of myself and my family. 
I had not then drunk my drop of the cup of 
worldly prosperity, and the draught seemed 
desirable. Unable to compass love and fame, 
I resolved at least to grasp the latter. 

Those who had a right to be most in- 
terested in my future happiness were satis- 
fied with my choice. 

'^It was a good thing on the whole," my 
mother said at last; while my father re- 
marked — '' Perhaps it was as well, Tom, 
Eosie did marry her cousin. She would 
never have made a wife for a poor man." 

"It is the most sensible piece of work 
you ever did," declared Mrs. Graham, "and 
I am proud of you, Tom Luttrell." Whilst 
nothing could exceed the affectionate demon- 
strations of Mrs. Sherlock and the girls, or 
the kind interest Mr. Sherlock took in me 
and my affairs. 



54 ^y Last Love. 

Joan only did not like it. 

"Yon are certain, Tom, you have not 
been in too great a hurry," she asked, as 
we walked together up and down the little 
plot of garden ground which the Southgate 
Cottage boasted. 

Then I replied, a little sharply — 

"Joan, I have asked Miss Sherlock to be 
my wife, and that is the same as if she were 
already my wife ; so you must never say^ 
anything like that again. Do you under- 
stand?" 

Whereupon Joan sighed, and answered 
softly — 

" Yes, I think I understand better even 
than you." 

" I want to be settled," I said reading her 
thought and resenting it. "I shall be glad 
when Mr. Sherlock gives his consent to my 
immediate marriage." 

But Joan did not answer this time. She 
only remained aggravatingly silent, offering 
up, I imagine, a solemn petition that Mr^ 



The ''''Happiest Day of my LifeP 55 

Sherlock might never give his consent, and 
that I might never marry Miss Sherlock. 

But the petition was not granted. In 
due time I had made enough to furnish a 
house, which Mrs. Sherlock approved, from 
garret to cellar, even in matters which it 
then seemed to my bachelor ignorance pre- 
mature to consider ; but she was wise in her 
generation, and I am bound to say her fore- 
sight in the matter of our accommodation 
was justified by results. 

I had found a house then, built, so it 
seemed, to meet every exigency of our 
possible future. Catharine selected the fur- 
niture — I should advise any man about to 
marry to insist -on the young lady doing so, 
as she cannot in that case well fijid fault 
with it afterwards — and I think she and her 
mamma bought everything, down to a dozen 
skewers, which could be needed in an esta- 
lishment. The life insurance, as hath been 
already stated, was duly effected. I had 
held some good briefs, and there appeared 



56 My Last Love, 

every prospect of more following; in 
fact, I was at length, even from Mr. 
Sherlock's amended point of view, in a 
position to marry, and accordingly the day 
was fixed, and Catharine's wedding-dress 
made. 

It was of white satin, and did not become 
her. It requires a peculiar woman to stand 
white satin. Even Eose would have found 
it a trial, but then I should have chosen her 
dress, or influenced it no doubt, whilst Miss 
Sherlock, influenced solely by herself, se- 
lected hers without the slightest reference to 
anybody. 

Perhaps, as a professional advertisement — 
perhaps, because he was overjoyed to re- 
member that a man had at length been 
found to marry one of his daughters — per- 
haps, because, having that three thousand 
pounds always in his memory, he knew it 
was about the last thing he would ever be 
called on to do for her, Mr. Sherlock resolved 
that the nuptials of my Catharine should be 



The ''^Happiest Day of my Life P 57 

on a scale of magnificence undreamed of 
hitherto in Huntingdon Square. 

To describe the preparations which were 
made in Mr. Sherlock's house, at Mr. 
Sherlock's expense, in anticipation of the 
wedding, would be utterly beyond my 
ability. The whole of the inhabitants of 
the Square were indeed kept on the qui vive 
for some weeks previous to the ceremony. 
Now it was the florist come in a light van to 
take his orders, now the confectioner, now 
the individual who was to find rout seats for 
the evening ball, further, large bandboxes, 
and young women of the millinery persua- 
sion being followers of fashion and latest 
bonnet novelty, prevailed in the hall, whilst 
in the drawing-room I heard of nothing save 
tulle and tarletan, silks and laces. 

My adored one was accompanied to the 
altar by twelve bridesmaids, six of whom 
were arrayed in pink and white, and six in 
blue and white, a device of Joan's, who 
thereby secured to herself by some means 



58 My Last Love, 

the privilege — not hard to wrest — of paying 
for the attire of herself and sisters. Sinc^ 
those days, I have some reason to believe 
their flowing robes were paid for also by 
Mr, Sherlock; but as Mrs. Sherlock never 
found the matrimonial purse-strings too 
much relaxed for her benefit, we may 
forgive her this slight deception, which 
did not do much harm to Joan, or to Mr. 
Sherlock, seeing neither was acquainted 
with it, but which did furnish forth a 
new dress or tv^o for the next aspirant 
to matrimonial honours. 

How Joan ever managed to pay for those 
dresses puzzles me to this hour. She did 
not come to me for a cheque, and further^ 
she and my father and mother, and the 
younger fry, severally presented Miss Sher- 
lock with appropriate if not expensive gifts, 
which were duly laid out, with other tokens 
of affection, on the drawing-room table, and 
elicited a considerable amount of admira- 
tion. 



The '' Happiest Day of my Life^ 59 

It was like a dream to me — more like a 
dream than any experience of my life, when 
I stood before the altar-rails vowing to take 
Catharine — to have and to hold her. People, 
I understand, did not consider my self- 
possession perfect on the memorable occa- 
sion ; but then, men are sometimes not so 
calm in the presence of danger as the softer 
sex, and whatever may have been my short- 
comings in the matter of confidence, they 
were amply redeemed by the admirable 
bearing of the bride. Then, as since, on 
the occasions of christenings, dinner-parties, 
death-beds, and so forth, Catharine behaved 
herself to perfection. 

Her voice was neither too loud nor too 
low ; and when, the ceremony over, we re- 
paired to the vestry, the manner in which 
she kissed her mother and friends without 
disarranging the folds of her veil, or the 
lace on her dress, was worthy of all com- 
mendation. 

For the last time she signed in a neat 



6o My Last Love. 

ladylike hand her name, Catharine Sherlock; 
and then, a little impatient perhaps of the 
kissing and congratulations, I asserted my 
newly-acquired rights, and drawing her 
hand within my arm, walked off with my 
wife to the carriage that awaited our 
appearance. 

The other carriages rapidly followed, and 
after an interval employed by the ladies in 
admiring the presents, and by the men, as I 
have cause to believe, in ^' doing sherry and 
seltzer," we all went solemnly and slowly 
downstairs to breakfast. 

I wish I had sufficient ability to repro- 
duce before the reader's imagination that 
wedding-breakfast as it is photographed on 
my memory ; for the absurdity of the whole 
affair impressed me vastly, though Heaven 
knows I never felt in a less laughing 
humour than when it became necessary for 
me to return thanks for the beautiful, grace- 
ful, and accomplished bride, and myself. 

True I went to the altar a willing sacri- 



The '"''Happiest Day of my Lije^ 6i 

fice, but still it did not seem to me exactly a 
fitting occasion for merry-making. I might 
have felt differently had Eose been my bride, 
but then Eose was not my bride, which made 
all the difference. The match could not be 
regarded other than remarkably suitable in 
every respect save one, and I knew this. 
^Nevertheless though the grand mansion in 
Tyburnia, furnished throughout by the best 
London upholsterers, and decorated with 
that pure taste for which Englishmen are so 
remarkable, may be, in the world's opinion 
and your own, a most desirable residence, it 
cannot quite come up to the beauty of the 
air-palace you built, lying under the beech- 
trees on that summer afternoon long ago. 

And this was just my case. I felt Miss 
Sherlock was my reality, and Eose my illu- 
sion; but while acknowledging the great 
blessing Providence had given me, I did not 
feel inclined to sing a psalm of thanksgiving 
over the razing of my dream-castle to the 
ground. 



62 My Last Love, 

Nevertlieless, as I have said, the absurdity 
of the whole afiair struck me forcibly, as 
anything ridiculous always does strike one 
most forcibly at the most solemn seasons. 
That so many people should have been in- 
vited to witness our launch filled my soul, 
when I beheld them seated round Mr. Sher- 
lock's table, with surprise not unmingled 
with awe. I could not tell what the day 
seemed like. It was not like a Sunday, nor 
yet a week-day; it had not the ghastly 
cheerfulness of Christmas, nor the bright- 
ness of Easter. Eather, it appeared to 
me a cross between Good Friday and 
a morning performance at Drury Lane. I 
had a sense of being out for the occasion 
unlawfully, and I kept wondering what all 
those people would do after we left them ; 
how they would occupy the time till they 
returned to the grand ball wherewith Mr. 
and Mrs. Sherlock meant to celebrate the 
event of a new member being added to the 
family circle. 



The ^^ Happiest Day of 7ny LifeP 63 

There were men and women present who 
had long outlived the illusions of youth, if 
their youth ever held any ; there were hus- 
bands who had made their wives' hearts 
ache, and wives who, after twenty years of 
matrimony, still lacked information on that 
useful branch of knowledge — how to make 
home happy ; and yet these people, utterly 
ignorant as to whether our venture might 
not turn out as badly as theii' own, sat at 
that marriage feast, and smiled and ate, as 
though there were no such things as un- 
happiness and indigestion on earth. 

They were '-'- drest in all their best," in 
order to see me take my Sally abroad, and I 
should think much money must have changed 
hands in order to effect such gorgeous results; 
so that in our small way we benefited trade, 
and I feel no doubt but that the confectioner 
who provided the breakfast, and the hired 
waiters who ministered to the wants of ex- 
hausted humanity, rose up and called me 
blessed for having married Miss Sherlock. 



64 My Last Love. " 

Amongst the guests were two authors, 
one of whom, with that reverence for the 
sanctity of private life that distinguishes 
some votaries of literature, reproduced the 
scene in one of his clever novels, only 
changing our names, our rank, and the 
place of our abode. In his hands Mr. Sher- 
lock became Sir Joseph Shylock, who, 
having made his money by discounting bills 
at two hundred per cent., stood for some 
borough far distant from the scene of his 
early struggles, was duly returned, made 
himself necessary to the then government, 
and earned for his reward the honours of 
knighthood. 

Too great a man ostensibly to continue 
the bill-discounting business, he neverthe- 
less, sul rosa^ lent money to those younger 
and elder sons, who had either money in 
expectation, or friends in the background. 

Sir Joseph never appeared in any of these 
transactions himself, but employed as jackal 
a man in his confidence, in comparison to 



The ^' Happiest Day of my Life^ 65 



"whom the knight was honesty and simplicity 
itself. 

This man, Carew by name, young in years 
but old in wickedness, in consideration 
of the hold he possessed over Sir Joseph, 
was promised one of the daughters in mar- 
riage — a beautiful creature, secretly ena- 
moured of a marvellously clever poet. How 
the story proceeded space will not permit 
me to relate in detail, only the end of it all 
was, that Shylock and Carew came to grief 
owing to a little accident in connection with 
the signature of a noble Marquis, and that 
the clever poet who possessed a knowledge 
of business and law — vague possibly, but 
yet remarkable withal in one of so dreamy 
and romantic a nature — put such a pressure 
upon lover and father, that the hand of the 
beauteous Eachel was bestowed upon him, 
together with an infinite number of fat 
money-bags. 

I have read that novel quite through, not 
without interest. 

VOL. III. P 



66 My Last Love, 

'^Jenkins always draws his characters 
from the life," say the critics, '^ and therein 
lies the principal charm of his rare genius." 
Having sat unconsciously for one of his 
characters, I can only add I hope his people 
are not considered like life. 

As for his rare genius — well, perhaps I 
had better pass that on without asking you, 
reader, to swallow as much of it as Mr. 
Sherlock's guests did of champagne. 

For me I drank but little, and yet 
when I rose to return thanks for Catharine 
and myself the room seemed to be spinning 
round and the people with it. Accustomed 
I was to public speaking, but this private 
speaking across the skeletons of fowls and 
the .dlhis of salad, over cut-glass and the 
best electro-plate, tried my equanimity. 

How I got through that speech I do not 
know. I held on to the table with both 
hands, so that if it went away I might go 
also. I told a great many untruths. I 
uttered a vast number of truisms. There 



The ^''Happiest Day of my Life?'* 67 

were cheers, there was laughter ; people 
said, ^^ Capital/' and it may have been 
capital for aught I know ; all I can now re- 
member is that I wound up by declaring it 
was the happiest day of my life, at which 
statement Mrs. Sherlock looked at me with 
an expression of approbation, and wiped 
away a tear. 

Then even more toasts were given and 
more champagne was drunk. After a time 
the table became quite steady, and I was 
able ultimately to face the fact that Catha- 
rine had slipped away to change her dress, 
and that the moment when we two were 
together to start in reality on our travels 
through the world, was at hand. 

The trunks were already beside the coach- 
man ; the young ladies were already in the 
balcony armed with white slippers ; already 
a crowd had formed itself on each side of 
the hall-door, to witness the bride's exit 
from her father's home ; and I stood waiting 
for her appearance. 

F 2 



68 My Last Love. 

I could not tell you, reader, how my 
heart sank at the sound of the rustle of her 
dress. If I never knew it before, I knew 
then the whole affair was a mistake — a 
lamentable mistake for one of us, if not for 
both ; and I screwed up my courage to go 
out with her for life, as many a man has 
done to go out in the chill winter's morning 
with Mr. Calcraft and the chaplain. 

God forgive me, I felt at that moment 
like one who has committed some great and 
irretrievable sin. 

I went forward to meet her. They thought 
I was eager, whereas I was only desperate. 
There was some kissing — much kissing in- 
deed. Catharine wept on the ample ma- 
ternal bosom, and took the starch out of her 
father's elaborate shirt-frill. 

I liked her better than I had ever done. 
After all, it required some confidence for a 
girl to put her whole future in a man's 
hand, and I vowed to myself I would try 
and be good to her. 



The ^^ Happiest Day of 7?iy LifeP 69 

It was a break, and she felt it. She was 
leaving the old familiar life and the tried 
friends and the loving parents. 

^^ Good-bye, Lnttrell, and be sure to 
write." That was my father-in-law. 

*^ Good-bye, Thomas. I am quite happy 
about my child." That was Mrs. Sherlock, 
with the tears trickling down her plump 
cheeks. And ^' good-bye, and good-bye, 
and good-bye," echoed round, whilst be- 
tween a line composed of the very rank and 
file of London life, I led my weeping bride 
from the house where she had pursued her 
maiden meditations on the all-absorbing 
maiden theme — ^^ How to get married, and 
to whom." 

Swish came down a shower of white 
slippers, and a chorus of young voices called 
out, '' Good-bye," and '' God speed." The 
coachman touched his horses, and we were 
off on the journey of life together. 

" Compartment ? — Yes, sir, — quite right, 
sir, — luggage, — I will see to that, sir." 



70 My Last Love, 



Thus spoke the guard, locking us up safely 
together in a carriage, from which there was 
no escape. 

"How could he know?" I asked Catha- 
rine ; " and what are the porters grinning 
at?" 

" One of the slippers lodged on the top of 
my imperial. Did you not see it ? I did." 
And Catharine proceeded, quite systemati- 
cally, to see that her belongings were all 
safe, and that nothing had been left behind.. 
" My shepherd' s-plaid shawl ! " she ex- 
claimed, "they have forgotten to put that 
in." And then, I confess, the whole 
affair began to assume a commonplace 
aspect. 

We were off ; and I sat thinking. Shall 
I make a full and free confession to this 
woman, whom I have sworn to love till the 
day of my death ? Shall I establish a link 
between us — tell her, with God's help I 
mean to try and love her more than I ever 
loved that other ? Shall I venture on the 



The ''''Happiest Day of my LifeP 71 

dangerous ground of being frank with a wife 
and that on our wedding-day ? 

^'I do hope," Catharine broke in at this 
juncture, while the express tore along, ^' I 
do hope they haye not forgotten anything 
else. It will be so inconvenient not having 
that shawl." 

'-'' We can buy another," I answered, 
taking her hand, but she had dispelled all 
thought of a confession, which had never 
since been made till now. 

And it was quite as well. I understand 
perfectly my Catharine could neither have 
comprehended its import, nor borne its re- 
petition. 

"We learn many things as we grow old, 
and amongst them the value and virtue of 
reticence even towards the wife of our bosom, 
concerning the things which lie next our 
heart. 



72 



CHAPTER IV. 

MARRIAGE. 

Some people say that those blissful days 
which it is usual to spend as far from home 
and a man's ordinary occupation as possible, 
are the most trying of married life, and this 
may well be so, seeing that it is a serious 
experiment to make, that of passing an entire 
month alone with anybody — more especially 
a new wife — but I did not find my honey- 
moon wearisome ; on the contrary, I think 
it enabled me to grow more gradually accus- 
tomed to the singular fact of being married, 
and consequently independent no longer, 
than would have been possible had I stepped 



Marriage, 73 



^ith Mrs. Luttrell at once into the house 
already referred to, whereof my Catharine 
had selected the furniture. 

It is a great change to aily man to get 
married, and one requires some little time to 
become quite reconciled to great changes, 
whether they be desirable or the reverse. 
Therefore, as the thirty days we spent on the 
continent were a sort of ante-room where I 
was permitted to loiter before entering into 
that full state of domestic felicity which 
awaited me in England, I shall ever retain a 
grateful recollection of the opportunity thus 
afforded of coming slowly to a knowledge 
of the happiness I might reckon upon in 
the life I had — voluntarily, shall I say ? — 
chosen. 

During the honeymoon Catharine proved 
Jierselfto be just what she has continued 
ever since — a woman admirably adapted to 
sustain and even advance her husband's social 
position — a woman who liked to go and see 
jplaces, to the end that she might talk about 



74 My Last Love, 



them afterwards, but who took no interest in 
anything, whether in art or nature, for pure- 
love of art or love of nature. In itself I 
am quite confident she considered moonlight 
then what she considers moonlight now — an 
infinitely poorer invention than gas-light ; 
that in her heart she greatly preferred the 
Parisian shops to any cathedral or picture- 
gallery we visited; that she liked much 
better going to the theatre than contemplat- 
ing the beauties of the Ehine ; and that the 
new bonnet she took back with her to Eng- 
land, afforded her much more unqualified 
pleasure than the memory of any landscape 
on which her eyes had rested. 

And was I disappointed ? On the contrary. 
Here was a wife just fitted for me ; one whose 
sensibilities required no delicate handling, 
no anxious consideration, who although she- 
loved me as much as she knew how, was not 
likely to prove exacting and ask for or even 
to understand that passionate, all-absorbing^ 
love which having poured out upon one- 



Marriage, 75 



woman I believed I could never give to 
another. 

Tlie love Eose awoke would only have 
amazed and wearied Catharine. Whilst a 
man was being brought skilfully on to pro- 
posing point, and from that point up to the 
culminating point of matrimony, it might 
be well enough to humour his sentimental 
fancy for quiet walks and talks ; but that a 
man and wife should care to be alone, that 
they should live out of society, and affect 
the company of one another to the exclusion 
of desirable acquaintances, were ideas utterly 
foreign to the admirably regulated mind of 
Catharine Luttrell, nee Sherlock, and as sooth 
to say I was not now particularly desirous 
of spending a Ufe-a-iefe existence, we suited 
each other capitally. She wrote home that 
Thomas was the best and most generous 
husband in the world ; to which Mrs. Sher- 
lock replied, that she had always felt I 
would make her treasure happy. Have I 
done so ? 



7^ My Last Love, 

There is one black memory tliat I recall 
while tracing these lines, one act of my life 
I would give everything I ever possessed or 
-am ever likely to possess to be able to undo. 
We never talk about it, not even Joan and 
I, but it has left a dark track across my 
heart, and whatever it may have proved to 
Catharine, it has been to me the bitterest and 
most unsoothed trouble of a not particularly 
untroubled existence. 

Had I spoken to her out of the fulness of 
my heart on our wedding-day, as I once 
purposed, would that sorrow lie heavy on my 
conscience now ? Perhaps not, but the for- 
gotten shawl stopped my intended confession, 
and thinking of that shawl I sometimes 
imagine that not merely the penitence but 
also the grief is mine alone ; that I did not 
wound her so vitally as I feared, and that I 
have fretted myself needlessly over a matter 
which possibly never first nor last cost her a 
night's sleep. 

But this comes later in my story. We 



Marriage, 77 



could foresee no storm or sign of a storm at 
the point I have now reached — our return 
to England. Eather everything there be- 
tokened and rightly a long continuance of 
fair weather. Catharine liked her house, 
and, being the mistress of it, she liked 
welcoming her mother and sisters in her 
drawing-room, and she welcomed them fre- 
quently without remonstrance or hindrance 
from me ; she liked having plenty of money, 
and I gave her all I could spare and worked 
hard to get more for her ; she liked being 
married to a man whose relations did not 
trouble her much and yet remained on 
perfectly friendly terms. If bitterness 
mingled with her cup, it was because a por- 
tion of my income went to maintain the 
modest establishment at Southgate. It was 
folly for me ever to have told her anything 
concerning that, but people entertain some 
ridiculous ideas about being quite frank 
before marriage, which is the more extra- 
ordinary since nobody is frank after, and 



78 My Last Love. 

not having had the benefit of any previous 
connubial experience I made the usual 
mistake and consequently have since, on 
various occasions, repented my communica- 
tions. 

That is, I used to repent, for there is no 
one for me to support or for her to grumble 
about now. They are dead, or pushing 
their OTm ways in the world, or far be- 
yond any help of mine ; but even if this 
were not the case Catharine would not 
xjomplain. 

A passage of arms occurred between us 
once, when, though I was severely wounded, 
she got the worst shock of the encounter. 
Since then Catharine has been more sub- 
missive, and I — more considerate. 

I wonder if she be really happy now ? I 
wonder if she ever think ours might have 
been a better life — made a better thing out 
of, somehow ? 

If I could even form an idea of what she 
might answer, I would ask her one evening 



Marriage, 79 



in the twilight, or when the fire is burning 
low, to tell me all she thinks about it, but 1 
dread being requested at the supreme mo- 
ment to light the gas, or to give her that 
work-basket containing those slippers, still 
unfinished, of which mention was honour- 
ably made in the first pages of ^ My First 
Love.' 

We have never been accustomed to talk. 
Somebody says, or rather, indeed, a great 
many persons say, talking is not conversing 
as eating is not dining, which is just one of 
those one-sided statements that makes a man 
who is not likely to be misled by a neatly 
turned sentence, angry, more especially when 
he knows by bitter experience that convers- 
ing may be as far removed from talking as 
dining from eating. 

We never talked at any rate. We always 
conversed. This habit commenced in our 
honeymoon, and it grew stronger with years. 
If I were in the most terrible trouble I could 
only give my wife the barest outline of facts. 



8o My Last Love. 

To fill in the details would be a simple im- 
possibility — to expatiate on how it affected 
me a feat beyond my power. Joan says I 
do not even talk to my children, but then 
she does not quite understand that if I did 
talk to them they would not appreciate the 
attention. 

Yes, taking it altogether mine has been a 
lonely life, though I have lived always 
amongst people — and a spoiled one, though 
I have made money as well as a fair reputa- 
tion. It is a strange thing to consider how 
desolate one mischance may in reality leave 
a man, even while apparently he have made 
a very good thing for himself of existence. 
If the fates decree that one is to be for fifty 
years out of the three score and ten wholly 
and solely a denizen of the world as the 
world obtains here in London, it might be as 
well to have no memories of murmuring 
rivulets and quiet woods associated with the 
first twenty. 

Sentiment, for example, will never em- 



Marriage, 



bitter the future happiness of my young 

people, who I earnestly hope will marry 

other young people as purely worldly and 

superficial as themselves. One of my sons 

has developed a certain talent for literature, 

and will, I doubt not, in time favour the 

world with various three-volume novels (if 

three volumes obtain so long), treating of 

that semi-fashionable society which he 

knows, and that entirely fashionable society 

which he is never likely to know, and in due 

time probably I shall appear in print as a 

respectable but unapproachable father. 

Well, so be it. Children it is said take 
after their mother. It is eminently flattering 
to my vanity to be quite satisfied none of 
mine take after me. 

To return, however, to the days when 
children were not in my home — neither the 
puling infant nor the young gentleman in 
knickerbockers — a style of costume that, 
despite Mr. Thackeray's dictum and Messrs. 
NicolPs advertisement, I detest with a 

VOL. III. G 



82 My Last Love. 

detestation worthy of a better cause — what 
can I recollect of those days ? All through 
my rambling talk I have been trying to re- 
member. 

Any memory of home comfort? Perhaps 
so : if home comfort mean simply hot and 
cold water in one's dressing-room, linen left 
out by my wife's maid, for I kept no valet, 
dinner fairly cooked and reasonably hot, a 
tolerably good glass of wine with and after it, 
breakfast to a moment in the morning, I had 
home comforts. And the days were gone 
when a vision of a sweet face uplifted to 
mine, of the loving clasp of a soft hand, of a 
dear voice welcoming me after my labour, 
was the sum and total of the only home 
comfort I ever wished or hoped to realize. 
People take to luxury and physical ease 
when they find the '' better part" of exist- 
ence cannot be possessed by them; so, 
failing my dream habitation, which might 
have been up three pair of stairs or in 
Buckingham Palace for any local habitation 



Marriage, 83 



I cared to give it, I was well enough content 
to go back evening after evening to a house 
where the stairs were covered with the best 
and newest Brussels carpeting ; where I 
hung up my hat on a highly veneered stand, 
resplendent with a most unnecessary looking- 
glass; where passing the dining-room door 
I could see the table set out in the best style 
by our youthful buttons ; where I could 
generally hear the tones of Catharine's 
grand piano, and where as I entered the 
drawing-room, I was usually greeted not 
only by my wife, but also by a couple of her 
sisters, and sometimes by Mrs. Sherlock 
herself. 

And it did not then strike me as anything 
very dreadful that this was all the sort of 
home I was ever likely to know. When 
a man takes possession of Mrs. Parkins' 
first floor (sitting-room with bed-room at 
the back and attendance), he does not 
fully realize what life in that lady's desir- 
able lodgings is certain to prove when weeks 

g2 



84 My Last Love, 



have passed into months and months into 
years ; and in like manner when people first 
marry they scarcely grasp the fact that it is 
for the whole of existence — that they have 
made a choice which can never be rescinded 
till they stand remorseful beside the death- 
bed of that him or her who chances to be- 
hnsband or wife, and by the time they have 
made this discovery they have '^ got nsed to 
it," for great is the force of habit and the 
lulling effect of time. 

I got used to it. I am used to it. Were 
Catharine to die, she would not have a sin- 
cerer mourner than myself; but there is 
not, I am happy to say, the slightest chance, 
speaking humanly, of my survivorship. My 
wife has a capital constitution, and takes 
good care of it. She eats well, drinks well, 
sleeps well, and refrains from all undue 
mental excitement. In the future I men- 
tally behold her a large, handsome, well- 
preserved widow, taking an interest in all 
the affairs of this world, and keeping up a 



Marriage, 85 



^ort of visiting acquaintance with, those of 
the next ; ruling her household to the last 
judiciously and serenely ; regretting the 
late Mr L. — she speaks of me as Mr. L. 
noTV, and though privately objecting strongly 
lo the title, I am morally too great a coward 
to object publicly to any form of address 
*she may be pleased to select. 

Time went by, and truly and duly I was 
a father and Mrs. Sherlock a grandmother. 
Great ceremonies attended the arrival and 
christening of that first-born. We were all 
perhaps a little unduly excited over the 
event, and considered it a stranger incident 
than might from the Eegistrar- General's re- 
turns have been supposed. Catharine was 
one of those women who think it the cor- 
rect thing to have a certain number of 
children (the more the better), just as they 
think it proper to have a large number of 
desirable acquaintances on their visiting 
list I do not believe she was particularly 
fond of children, but she liked to be a 



S6 My Last Love. 



mother. She liked the fuss which is always 
made on these occasions when women are 
well off and have plenty of female relations, 
— the bustle of preparation, and the excuse 
it gave for shopping and spending money, 
pleased her inexpressibly ; and when at 
length the little one came — a boy, well, 
well, it is not for me to throw stones or to 
attempt too keenly to analyse what her feel- 
ings may have been, for I know when I 
went to my chambers that day, I dreamed 
another dream even more illusory than my 
last, about a son who should be to me what 
I had striven to be to my father ; to whom 
I could in the after-time talk, as the old 
man talked, thank God, to me ; who should 
be, if *^ odd,'' faithful, — if ^^ peculiar," in- 
telligible, to my understanding : who should 
lack nothing my labour and my love might 
give him : who should resemble in his 
strength and his devotion and his tenderness 
Joan who had sat with me and Eose on the 
grass by the river-side, and pelted the birds 



Marriage, 87 



with cherry-stones, and wandered wild 
through the woods and fields, and grown up 
finally into the noblest woman I ever knew. 

Dreams, friends, — air-castles ; dreams from 
which I have since awakened, — air-castles I 
have beheld melt gradually away. I love 
my children, I hope, but I cannot help see- 
ing what they are. Never an one of them 
has '-^ strained back '' to unselfishness and a 
high ideal of the duties which the very fact 
of being placed in this world devolves upon 
all men and all women. 

They are amiable enough as times go, 
and to a certain extent companionable also ; 
but they have had everything they wanted, 
from their youth up, and I am not sure that 
it is a good thing for youth to have every- 
thing it wants, and to regard middle and 
old age as an anomaly, which is permitted 
to exist merely bfecause it has a certain 
power of work in it, and can provide the 
wherewithal for girls to go to balls, and 
boys to spend money recklessly at college. 



88 My Last Love. 

In tlie next generation it may be, there 
will be born to one of my cMldren — for 
these things are inscrutable — a gipsy -faced 
little maiden who shall comfort the weary 
heart of some world-tired father, whom the 
heat and burden of his day has almost 
overpowered, and be as strong to help as 
she is powerful to console. 

Shall I live to see this dream-baby ? 
Shall I, when feeble and white-haired, look 
with dimmed vision into eyes that may 
remind me of that dream-sister now almost 
as far removed from me as though the valley 
of the shadow lay between ? Shall saucy 
tongue prattle to me with the daring abandon 
of the reckless Joan of old ? Shall a brown- 
skinned romp ever fling her arms about 
me, and kiss my furrowed face, as I have 
seen Joan kiss Eose ? Forgive me, friends, 
for I seem to be growing childish already^ 
and it needs one fierce, wicked memory to 
convince me that I am not yet in my dotage. 

But a twelvemonth since Joan said to me — 



Marriage, 89 



^^ My second boy is so like you, Tom, 
that I wish you would let me bring him to 
see you." 

And then I blazed out — 
^' At your peril, Joan. I want to see no 
child of yours for ever." In answer to 
which came no harsh words, though mothers 
are usually vicious towards those who turn 
aside from their offspring. 

She only said, ^'My poor Tom;" and 
I could gather from her tone, though my 
glance was averted, that there were tears in 
those dark eyes (still beautiful), drawn from 
their fountain by pity for me. 

After all, why should I receive such pity ? 
Eose was only a weak woman, and she mar- 
ried another, leaving me lonely — as better 
and holier and truer men have been left 
lonely by women since the beginning of 
time, and will be left till eternity. 

It is a misfortune to have a heart. Hap- 
pily my children — over whom I lament to 
have sung so grevious a Jeremiad — are not 



9© My Last Love, 

much troubled with so delicate an 
organ. 

I mean mentally, of course. Physically 
I believe they are quite sound, tried by the 
best stethoscope. 



91 



CHAPTER V. 



MY VISITOR. 



Time meanwhile went by in a quiet, orderly- 
sort of way : lie did not linger, lie did not 
travel by express. There cannot be either 
much lingering or much express work in 
the life of a plodder, and that I soon be- 
came. 

It was needful to provide so many guineas 
a week for the household expenses deemed 
by my beloved, necessaries ; it was essential 
for me also to consider rent and taxes, in- 
surance — fire and life — the demands of tailor, 
milliner, and draper, and last and least (in 
point of expense) the modest sum required 



•92 My Last Love. 

to keep poverty from the little farm at 
Southgate. 

Taken in detail, the items might not be 
great, but taken in the aggregate and look- 
ing back dispassionately on the events of my 
life as though they had happened to another 
man, I think it was more than any one per- 
son ought to have been called upon to furnish 
out of his own brains. 

Ladies, of course, will call me a ^^ brute " 
for such a remark, but that is merely be- 
cause as yet ladies are not men. When 
Messrs. Mill and Bright transform them 
into the baser sex — and with masculine 
privileges force masculine responsibilities 
upon them, as I hope the champions of wo- 
men's rights may — the dear creatures will 
better understand what I mean, and wonder, 
perchance, " How men endured it so long." 
Endured, — that is, the social humbug which 
makes it necessary for a man, no matter 
what his ways and means may be, to live in 
a, given style : to allow his wife so much a 



My Visitor. 93 



"Week ; to take a house at so much a year, 
and as a rule choose the alternative of bank- 
ruptcy or softening of the brain. 

The present writer has experienced neither 
disease, and yet he dare affirm more hus- 
bands by ten thousands die of the causes 
which produce both results, than any regis- 
trar-general is ever likely to guess. 

Men's lives are, as a rule, spent in keep- 
ing roofs over other people's heads, — in 
maintaining a household from which they 
derive no benefit, — in paying tradesmen's 
bills for food they never eat, — in seeing that 
rent for places they never behold save late at 
night and early in the morning, falls into no 
arrear. 

Most wonderful is this London existence. 
Marvellous even to those who are pilgrims 
through it, as well as to the mere lookers-on. 

But I digress ; and yet, no — for this ever- 
lasting wear and tear, this mental and 
physical strain which tried my strength and 
taxed my energies to their utmost in the 



94 ^y Last Love. 

days wtten I was but a struggling barrister, 
and an author little known, have made me, 
I think, as much as Eose's desertion, the 
man people say I am. 

At the recollection of the earlier years of 
my married life, I shudder. Ease of mind 
I never knew, rest of body I never had. It 
was all very well for Catharine — a woman 
possessed of a power of enjoying unbroken 
slumbers, I believe to be unequalled — ^to 
talk of my morning's sleep, and my Sunday 
afternoon nap ; she did not know that the 
former was earned by a night devoted to the 
next chapter in my novel, or the considera- 
tion of ways and means ; and that the latter 
was a mere excuse for getting rid of the 
chit-chatter of her visitors. 

First or last I never told my wife our 
commencement was a mistake, — that we 
began just about where we should have left 
off; and that so far as I am personally con- 
cerned, until within the last few years, life 
has been a mere fight — to keep the wolf 
from this door and from that. 



My Visitor, 95 



Eefore my books were hatched in my 
brain, the poor chickens— lean and meagre 
enough — were sold, and the proceeds paid 
away ; before I held my briefs, the guineas 
they brought in were condemned. I have 
been what the world calls a prosperous man, 
and yet I can honestly declare I have envied 
my clerk and my errand boy ; and believing 
Catharine's ^'Buttons" to be pecuniarily 
solvent, I have often envied him too. 

For it it is true, Mesdames and Demoi- 
selles, though you may not believe me, that 
life in the nineteenth century is not all play, 
and that the man who sets out determined 
to maintain a certain position, has rather 
more work before him than he might exactly 
relish, could he, looking forward, foresee all 
his head and his hands must find to do. 

I found it to do, and did it — and for so 
much am thankful — but had I to begin the 
battle over again, not all the mothers-in-law 
in England would persuade me to commence 
life in that unexceptionable home, provided 



96 My Last Love, 

with good (and expensive) servants, fur- 
nished with the best furniture from garret 
to kitchen, and stamping us as ^^ persons 
bound to keep up a certain appearance." 

"We have kept that appearance up, and 
society and my wife are satisfied. Why 
then should I be dissatisfied ? — I, who have 
been the humble means of pleasing the 
ruling powers ? When the good time comes 
— and the clergyman treads swift on the 
heels of the doctor, and the undertaker 
walks lightly and rapidly after both, to take 
the last measurement my body will ever 
require — no one can say I have not, as a 
Briton, done my duty. 

I have married, and children have been 
born to me. I have paid rent for a period 
which seems illimitable and taxes with a 
resignation that might touch the heart of 
Mr. Lowe himself. I have fed servants 
whom I never wanted ; entertained visitors 
I never desired to see ; made money for 
the benefit of West End tradespeople, and 



My Visitor, 97 



being in Rome, failed in no respect, accord- 
ing to my light, to do as Rome desired. 

And yet I think I was a fool for my 
pains. Better a '' genteel six-roomed resi- 
dence," than this ceaseless money-getting 
and money -paying. Better, ah ! heaven, a 
hundred times the dinner of herbs procured 
for cash than the stalled ox purchased on 
credit, or purchased at least thus far on 
credit, that the money for our Sunday's 
joint and trimmings was never in my pocket 
on the Saturday night preceding. 

Well, it was to be, I suppose, — at all 
events it was, — and time and I and work 
went on together, and the pecuniary tread- 
mill became a familiar flight of steps. 

Supposing a man to be successful m 
business, he can employ clerks, and super- 
intend their doings ; he can turn his thou- 
sands by paying thousands. But suppose 
a barrister, or an author, salary his ten 
heads or twenty pair of hands, can he 
indite the life history of Smith by instruct- 

VOL. III. H 



98 My Last Love, 

ing Jones to bring him in so many foKos 
closely written, or can lie defend the cause 
of Brown by telling Eobinson to notice all 
the nicest points in the case ? 

Decidedly not ; and therefore, oh ! mil- 
lionaire, when yon hold up your hands for 
the future at the price paid for his book to 
some poor devil whom you honour by occa- 
sionally asking to dinner, or grudge Mr. 
Sarjeant the hundred-guinea fee that is his 
due, — just please to take these small matters 
into consideration. The capital of each is in 
his head, and if you could only imagine how 
often authors and barristers have a quarrel 
with that banker in order to get him to 
honour their drafts, you would think law 
and literature none such pleasant profes- 
sions after all. 

But, pshaw ! — why should I preach ? my 
day has been profitable, and if I have worked, 
what then ? It is the lot of man, and work 
has been more blessed to me than any leisure 
I can imagine. Yea, truly. 



My Visitor. 99 



Nevertheless, I worked, and hard, for 
which reason I often remained late at my 
chambers, instead of seeking that relaxation 
in the bosom of a steadily increasing family, 
which I am given to understand is good 
alike for the soul and body of man. 

Catharine, fortunately, was not of a sus- 
picious disposition, or what she might have 
thought of my constant professional absorp- 
tion, who can say ? 

Many wives do not credit the narratives 
men tell concerning important business en- 
gagements, and work pursued far into the 
night, away from home, and in many cases 
there is reason for this unbelief ; but so far 
as I am concerned, had the partner of my 
joy, and the liberal disburser of my earn- 
ings, done me the honour of making a 
friendly call in Pump Court at almost any 
hour in the evening, she would have found 
me busy with brief or manuscript, guiltless 
of any act or thought or project disloyal to 
her. 

h2 



lOO My Last Love. 

But Catharine never did me the honour 
of calling, and in all candour I may say I 
did not want her to do so. Having to work, 
it was best for me to labour on without even 
the pleasing distraction of a visit from my 
wife. Very few people came in a ^' friendly 
way " to my chambers, where briefs now 
arrived rapidly as could be desired. I had 
not many male acquaintances, and as for 
women I was scarcely on more than speak- 
ing terms with any save those of my own 
household. 

Day after day I wended my way through 
the Temple — ^^( before my marriage I had 
left Staples Inu, for more legally aristo- 
cratic quarters), — until every stone in the 
place grew famihar as the fields and woods 
of my boyhood had been. Day after day I 
repaired to court, and sometimes won the 
suit and sometimes lost it. Most frequently, 
however, fortune was with me. !N"ight after 
night I worked late and hard, allowing 
myself little relaxation, except an occasional 



My Visitor, loi 



half-hour's walk under the winter stars, or 
in the summer's evening's twilight through 
the deserted nooks and corners of the 
Temple. 

How many dinners I ate in those years 
at the ^ George,' I should be afraid to 
reckon. How many cigars I smoked pacing 
slowly round the church of the old Knights 
Templar, or walking by Goldsmith's grave, 
or (more rarely) sauntering through the 
gardens, it would be impossible to count. 
Essentially I had become a lonely man, 
caring but little for anything save my pro- 
fession and the money it brought me, valu- 
ing literary success merely just so far as it 
contributed towards the support of a rising 
family, and attaching importance to adverse 
criticism only to the extent it reduced the 
amount of the next cheque sent by my pub- 
lishers. 

Occasionally Catharine and I went to 
parties together; sometimes even we re- 
paired in each other's company to the 



I02 My Last Love. 

theatre and the opera, but as a rule she 
accompanied her father and mother, or 
matronized her sisters to those festive 
gatherings which were in our sphere con- 
sidered amusing and proper. 

I had not, in a general way, time to spend 
on what my wife called ^' keeping up our 
connection," so she sedulously devoted her- 
self to that pleasing duty, and at this mo- 
ment were any one to inquire of Mrs. Lut- 
trell as to the special causes which have 
contributed to such worldly success as we 
can boast, she would, I doubt not, answer, 
" Well, you know, I did not, like many 
women, relinquish society when I married ; 
I was always careful to make and retain 
desii^able acquaintances." 

And to do her justice she was ; but 
were the debit and credit column added 
up, and a strict account made out of profit 
and loss, the result of Catharine's tactics 
would not, I think, prove to have been gain. 
However, she believes she has fulfilled the 



My Visitor, 103 



duty of existence, and no doubt she is right, 
since every one says how desirable a thing 
it is for a professional man to possess so 
admirable a wife. 

I wish some one would tell me why — and 
inform me at the same time what possible 
advantage it can be to a man for a woman 
to dress herself out, evening after evening, 
like Solomon in all his glory, for the mere 
sake of making the eighteenth at a dinner- 
party, or the two hundred and first at one 
of those popular entertainments ironically 
called an ''At Home." 

From all of which the attentive reader 
will readily understand that we soon became 
a very fashionable couple, interfering little 
one with the other, meeting only at break- 
fast on week-days, and having but little in 
common to talk over when Sunday came, 
and with the day of rest orthodox church- 
going, early dinner, and an afternoon 
devoted to the claims of society and the 
pleasure of seeing many callers. 



I04 My Last Love. 

Occasionally, indeed, we had dinner 
parties, and then I reached our house in time 
to see to the wines and receive my wife's 
instructions as to whom I was to take down ; 
while once at least in every season Catharine 
issued cards for an ^' At Home " more 
crowded, more uncomfortable, and more hot 
than any she herself had attended, on which 
occasion it was de ricjaeur that I should be 
in attendance, though I am sure nobody 
wanted me, and I did not want myself. 

My real '^ At Home," however, was in 
Pump Court, when, with curtains drawn and 
blazing fire, I settled- myself down for an 
evening's thorough work. Even now I can 
recall the peace of those quiet hours ! I can 
look back with satisfaction on the amount of 
willing labour I got through in the days, 
and months, and years between the first 
romance of my life and my last — between 
the first sorrow of my existence, which I got 
over, and that last which is present with me 
even now. 



My Visitor. 1 0.5 



Anxieties I had, it is true, and the eternal 
pressure of providing for a style of living 
far beyond my actual position in life. As 
my brothers grew older, also my responsi- 
bilities seemed to increase. They were 
always getting into scrapes ; one, indeed, 
got into something worse than a scrape, 
and it needed much money and, what was 
even more important, much time to extricate 
him, and of course the whole burden of 
trouble and expense and anxiety fell on me. 

But my shoulders were broad, and the 
burden was not more than I could carry, 
and I did, or thought I did, my duty, and 
the old love lay buried under the apple- 
blossoms, and the soft green turf, and the 
dead autumnal leaves of the long ago time. 

For years I had never beheld Eose Surry 
— never heard tidings of her. 

Sometimes, indeed, I saw the names of 
Sir Walter and Lady Surry mentioned 
amongst those of other fashionable persons 
who had " graced with their presence," or 



io6 My Last Love. 

" been honoured with invitations," but this 
was all. 

I had learnt only through the columns of 
the Times that Sir Humphrey Surry was 
dead and that Sir Walter the new king 
reigned in his stead, but my way lay so far 
apart from theirs, it was hard to understand 
how the threads of our lives could ever have 
crossed even for a moment, and sometimes I 
looked back upon the whole love story but 
as an unsubstantial dream. 

The present baronet was a different indi- 
vidual, indeed, from the late Sir Humphrey, 
and at his grand town house there were as- 
semblies, and balls, and dinner parties innu- 
merable, whilst when the season was over 
I read about the great people who were 
^^ partaking of the hospitalities of Gray- 
borough.*' That was the way I think the 
gentleman who wrote the passage worded it. 

Once, indeed, meeting Dick Tullett in the 
street (hearing I was at one time slightly 
Bohemian he had eschewed all intimate ac- 



My Visitor. 107 

quaintance with me, and I had not cared to 
renew it even when the ^' elegances and re- 
finements of life " were, thanks to Mrs. Lut-^ 
trelPs good management, inmates of my home, 
though my wife and family now visit his), 
he told me he was going down to Gray- 
borough, where I found subsequently he 
had formed one of a distinguished circle 
invited thither as guests of Sir Walter and 
Lady Surry. 

He did not add he was going in order to 
paint her portrait. The man was ashamed 
of his trade and did not care to mention it, 
but I found out his errand to Grayborough,. 
when next year I saw in the newspapers a 
criticism on Lady Surry's portrait in the 
Academy, painted by Eichard Tulle tt, Esq., 
E.A. 

I did not go to the Academy that season. 

She was too greatly removed, we were 
too far separated by rank and circumstances 
for even a pulse to beat the quicker at sight 
of her name, nevertheless, being married 



io8 My Last Love. 

myself and she married, I thought it best 
to stay away. The disillusion also might 
have been too bitter. It was the child Eose 
— the darling T met by the river now flow- 
ing on solitary — the sweet child-girl of a 
later growth whom I could remember so 
distinctly without bitterness, and I had no 
wish to see the woman, even on canvas, who 
was now far fi'om me as the heaven from 
the earth. 

So I did not go, and Lady Surry hung in 
a good light on the Academy walls, and 
Mr. Tullett's fortune was made. Had Eose 
been my wife, her portrait should not have 
been stared at by thousands in a public 
building; but then she was Lady Surry, a 
celebrated beauty, and I only a commoner 
with strong ideas concerning the sacredness 
of a woman's loveliness. 

Had she been my wife I should have kept 
that portrait within my holy of holies, but 
then she was not my wife, and of course no 
one came to consult me on the subject. At ^ 



My Visitor, 1 09 



a later period Mrs. LuttrelPs portrait, to 
which allusion has already been made, also 
graced the Academy walls, but this pub- 
licity was entirely of her own choosing ; and 
as I never could have forced a full compre- 
hension on her of my intense dislike to such 
exhibitions, the subject was not mooted be- 
tween us. 

She got the portrait painted at a very 
reasonable rate on the stipulation that it was 
to be exhibited, and when she told me a 
Mr. Snooks, who dined frequently at our 
house, and was a very good judge of the 
quality of our wines, had offered to per- 
petuate her charms on canvas, and purposed 
giving that portion of the British public who 
discourse about effect and delight in art an 
opportunity of beholding them, I said never 
a word in deprecation of her design. I did 
not even ask how much it was to cost, for 
fortune had smiled on me, and a few pounds 
more or less was not of such paramount im- 
portance as had once been the case. 



no My Last Love, 



So Mrs. Luttrell was duly done in oils, 
and Snooks got several good orders in con- 
sequence. 

But as I was saying, had Eose been my 
wife that portrait should not have appeared 
in the catalogue. 

I have had a copy of it made since, or 
rather a copy of it was made for me, but it 
gives me very little idea of Eose. 

Of course after a thing of this sort has 
been copied, that copy photographed, the 
photograph re-drawn, and coloured, the like- 
ness to the original sitter cannot be con- 
sidered admirable, and yet I think the face 
I turn and gaze at now is not wholly 
unlike that which Tullett, E.A., painted, 
though it does not in the slightest degree 
resemble Eose — at least not to my mind. 
Other people thought the original painting 
admirable, but in this, as in many things 
more or less important, other people and I 
joined issue. 



My Visitor. 1 1 1 



I never believed Dick TuUett, whether 
boy or man, could paint a woman, and 
I see no reason to alter my opinion — 
he has been dexterous in the treatment 
of her necklace and drapery, but he was 
less fortunate in his portrait of Lady Surry 
than of the child Rose, which he sketched 
in chalk one summer evening long ago — 
oh ! so long. 

It was many a day after that portrait was 
painted ere I saw Eose again, and I am told 
there was a period in her life when the 
sweetness vanished out of her face, and 
there lay a sorrowful, almost sullen look in 
those eyes that had been so pure and in- 
nocent. 

Fashionable hours, a perpetual round of 
visiting, whirling here and whirling there, 
being admired, flattered, yielded to, did not, 
I am told, improve her temper or her nature, 
and this may be so ; but all I know is that 
when we met again she was gentle and 
tender as of old, and that to whomsoever 



112 My Last Love. 

else she may haye seemed arrogant and 
perverse, the only memory of her my heart 
holds is the recollection of a woman sweet 
and clinging, weak and lovable and loving; 
the Eose of the murmuring rivulet; the 
Eose who stood out with me under the 
moonlight when the apple-blossoms carpeted 
the ground, grown to womanhood unchanged 
in heart, unspoiled in nature. 

But you want to know, at least I hope 
you do, when and how we met again after a 
lapse of time which had aged me consider- 
ably and made me a very different looking 
fellow to the Tom Luttrell who picked my 
first love's reticule out of the stream and 
sat on the brink with Joan and Eose, eating 
cherries and watching the trout gleaming in 
and out amongst the alders. 

Marriage ages a working man everywhere 
when once the first illusion is over, and he 
comes practically to understand the meaning 
of '^ little bills," and to know that a house, 
and wife, and a family cannot be maintained 



My Visitor. 113 



on air; that baker, butcher, tailor, shoe- 
maker, and milliner are tangible beings, 
oftentimes terrible realities ; but in London 
the pace being faster and the expenses 
greater, and the time for mental and phy- 
sical repose more limited, husbands age 
more rapidly than elsewhere. 

I did at all events. While Lady Surry 
was still beautiful and still young, I had 
settled down into a grave, thoughtful man. 
Lines were traced across my forehead ; grey 
hairs had cropped up from time to time ; 
when I looked in the glass it was a face 
changed and worn that gazed back at me 
steadily and steadfastly, with grave thought- 
ful eyes. My youth was gone, and my 
elasticity with it. Already the life insurance 
seemed a good and desirable property, for I 
had left my dreams behind me, and under- 
stood thoroughly that the end of all our 
dreams is the last sound sleep, which none 
of the voices, whether sweet or harsh, that 

VOL. III. I 



114 My Last Love. 

have disturbed and distracted us here shall 
be able to break. 

I was sitting alone in my chambers one 
winter's night, just as I am doing now, only 
at this moment I chance to be writing a 
story, and then I was reading one, the plot 
whereof turned on a will over which two 
brothers were disputing, and the denooement 
of which was still uncertain — my man, I 
ought to say, lost, though I believe he lost 
righteously — when there came a ring at the 
hall door, closed long previously, and a 
moment afterwards the small boy who stole 
my stamps, smoked my cigars, read my 
letters, forgot to deliver messages, and who, 
in addition to his other sins, chanced to be 
a son of the elderly female who professed to 
keep my chambers clean and failed to do so, 
came head-first into the room, full of the 
astounding intelligence — 

"Please, sir, a lady wants to see you, 



sir." 



"What lady?" I asked, for the cave of 



My Visitor, 115 



St. Kevin or the isle of St. Senanus was not 
more innocent of female presence than 
those chambers in Pump Court. ^'What 
lady?" and then, looking up, I sat like one 
bewildered because of the apparition I 
beheld. 

" Lady Surry ! " I gasped. 

She came across to the table against which 
I now stood unable to move, unable almost 
to believe the evidence of my senses. She 
laid her hand on my arm, and said just one 
word, " Tom." 

That was all, and yet in a moment the 
mist of the years, with their misery and 
trouble, their labour and their anguish, 
seemed lifted like a veil, and I was young 
again, and life was still before me, and I 
was wandering, happy and unheeding, 
through the Elysian fields of yore. 



I 2 



ii6 



CHAPTER VL 

LADY SURRY. 

There are stories told of persons who, sleep- 
ing for only two minutes, have yet managed 
to dream dreams the actions and events of 
which were carried on through years — and 
I believe those stories, for although I was 
then wide awake, I dreamed a dream, in the 
space of about a single second of time, which 
extended over the happiest part of my life. 

Then my vision ended, before she took 
her hand away it was over, and we both 
stood — parted — she a wife, I a husband, and 
yet not husband and wife ; she a mother, I 
a father, and yet neither a drop's blood to 



Lady Surry, 1 1 7 



the children of each other — parted as utterly 
as man and woman could be parted — we who 
had once been so much, she to me and I to 
her. So much ! had we not been all in all ? 

^' I am afraid I surprised — startled you," 
she began, '^ but I had not another friend 
in the world to whom I could come but 
yourself." 

I pulled my own especial chair round to 
the fire for her, and seated myself at a little 
distance before I could quite steady my voice 
to answer. Then I said — 

" What is the matter — what is wrong ? " 

'''' Everything," she answered, ^^ and I 
want you to put it right." And then she 
looked at the fire for a second or so, and I 
could see that her face was worn and pale, 
and that her eyes — those dear, sweet, honest, 
childish eyes I remembered so well — were 
full of tears. '^ You are not angry with me 
for coming here, Tom, are you ? " she asked 
at length. 

'' Angry, Lady Surry! " I repeated. 



1 1 8 My Last Love. 

*^Call me Eose," she said. "It will 
souncl like the old times, and we have 
never been other than friends, have 
we ?" 

" No, indeed ! " I answered. 

Yet for the life of me I could not help 
remembering how much more than friends 
we had once been, and I wondered how she 
could forget or ignore it ; but then women 
are mysteries (woman is the real enigma of 
existence), and the extent to which they 
can forget and ignore, even while re- 
calling, is marvellous to the present 
writer. 

" All these years I have watched your 
success, I have read your books, I have been 
proud of and jealous for you as Joan might 
be. I heard of you— of you all. Though I 
never wrote, I never forgot Joan nor any of 
you." 

Not knowing what reply to make to this, 
I held my peace. 

'^ I thought of writing to you often," she 



Lady Surry, 119 



went on, ^^ to say how glad I was to hear of 
your success, and to ask after Joan, and 
the rest ; but then I decided I would not. 
You did not think me unkind, did you ? " 

I should have thought it a most marvel- 
lous thing had she written, though such 
letters are sent daily, I believe, in London ; 
and yet I was pleased to know the tender 
little heart had felt impelled to send 
some token of remembrance, though it 
fluttered back again without fulfilling its' 
purpose. 

^^No," I said, "I could never think you 
unkind." 

'^ Thank you," she said. '^And I knew 
that although you had become a great 
author " (Heaven help her innocence !) " and 
been so successful in every way " (I felt as 
if my soul must have uttered a cry at hear- 
ing this, as if I must tell her what a wretched 
unsatisfactory life it had all been), "you 
would not quite forget old times, but help 
me if you could." 



I20 My Last Love. 

I got up from my chair and paced the 
room once, twice, thrice. 1 verily believed 
if she went on much longer she would drive 
me mad. 

I thought of the Egyptian bondage into 
which 1 had sold myself — and there sat she, 
the only thing I had ever desired or hoped 
to possess, congratulating me on having par- 
taken of the leeks and cucumbers of that 
accursed land. 

"Why could she not have left me alone ? 
Why had she ever come there ? 

^' Eose " — I spoke her name quite dis- 
tinctly, and without a tremour in my voice ; 
it was the first time since her marriage it 
had ever to my knowledge passed my lips ; 
when deliiious, no doubt I spoke it often 
enough. "Eose, if you want my help, I 
am ready to give it, if I can serve you 
— with all the veins of my heart I will do 
so — but for God's sake let the dead past 
lie buried — do not talk of old times to 
me." 



Lady Surry. I2i 

Then she turned away, and I knew it was 
to hide her tears. 

These women, oh, these women ! they 
turn down a page in a man's life's book, and 
go away and attend to a thousand things ; 
they marry, they bear children, they make a 
hundred fresh fiiends, they have a score of 
admirers, and then, after years, they return 
and open the old book, and expect that 
the tale can be proceeded with, or the 
former story recalled innocently or half in- 
differently as once they read it : whilst the 
man 

Well, I had set Eose crying — not a diffi- 
cult operation to perform — poor Eose. 

" I did not mean to wound you," I began, 
when I could endure the sight of her grief 
no longer. 

^' I know you did not," she answered, 
*^ but I am so miserable and so stupid." 

"- What is the matter ? " I asked. 

" Walter will not let me live with him any 
longer, and he has taken my children away.'^ 



122 My Last Love, 

"And you " 

" I have done notliing wrong — oh ! Tom," 
she cried passionately, " if nobody else be- 
lieves in me, won't you ? He has been so 
eruel and so hard ; and then to take away 
my children." She never said " our 
children." She never, first or last, through 
that interview wept or made lamentation for 
him. 

" Have you left Grayborough, then," I 
inquired. 

'^No, but he has, and taken my children 
too, and I could not stay there alone. He 
calculated on that — and I have come np here 
to ask you to help me. I do not want money 
• — or anything from him — if he will only 
give me my children." 

That was the refrain. Poor little desolate 
heart, she could not remain alone — she could 
not live separated from those she loved. 
Through a mist I saw the child I had first 
beheld sobbing by the stream, little caring 
in her babyish grief what the future might 



Lady Surry. 123 



have to hold for her beside her mother's 
anger at the drenched reticule. And the 
years had come, and the years had gone, and 
hehold this was what they had brought — a 
loveless marriage — a distrustful husband — 
a desolate home, and a frantic flight to 
the only human being who could, she said, 
help her. 

I had thought much and often about Lady 
Surry during the course of my married life, 
but I had never dreamed of anything like 
this — ^never seen her, even in the wildest of 
fancy's night-mares, sitting thus in my 
chambers — a despised wife — a weeping 
mother — a lonely, broken-heai-ted woman. 

'* It can soon be set right though," I said 
at length, speaking rather as the sequence 
of a long train of thought than in answer to 
her last remark ; but Eose shook her 
head — 

*^ "Walter was always jealous," she ex- 
plaiDed, ^^he never quite trusted me. He 
knew — " at this point she stopped and 



124 ^y Last Love, 

hesitated, and I did not encourage her to 
proceed — we both understood the finish of 
the unspoken sentence too well. 

^^ If I am to be of any service to you," I 
began after a short pause, ^'you must be 
frank with me ; tell me the whole story from 
beginning to end^ so far as it concerns this 
matter." 

"I will try," she said, bearing and lean- 
ing back in the chair, she began at the 
commencement of her trouble, and told me 
all about it right through without a break. 

There was not much in it, nothing but 
the usual tale of a man's jealousy and a 
woman's folly. Eose had always been a 
little simpleton, and furthermore, a naughty, 
perverse child, going where she was told 
not to go, and doing the things she had been 
bidden to leave alone. 

Sitting there, listening to her confession, 
I remembered how having been ordered not 
to go to the river she went — alas ! for me. 

Well, the whole of her married life had 



Lady Surry, 125 



been on a piece with that. If Walter Surry 
desired her not to waltz, the first thing he 
beheld was Eose whirling round to the music 
of the then most fashionable trois temps. If 
he told her he wished such and such persons 
treated with only distant courtesy, he was 
certain to find the obnoxious individuals in 
her box at the opera, beside her carriage in 
the Eow, close at hand in the next ball-room. 
I could have led her with a silken thread, 
or I fancy I could, which comes to much 
about the same thing ; but knowing the 
persistent obstinacy with which she disre- 
regarded her mother's commands, I arrived 
at the conclusion, that on the whole, Walter 
Surry's life with his wife had not been one 
of unmixed happiness ; that, with his tem- 
perament, the blessing of such a wife as 
Eose could not have proved entirely un- 
mixed ; and at first, I confess my sympathies 
were with him, but when she went on to 
tell me how he intercepted her letters, and 
held her answerable for the impertinent 



126 My Last Love, 

folly of a man wlio thought she meant ta 
give him encouragement, when she was only 
in her folly trying to pass the hours plea- 
santly with a pleasant companion, whom she 
had once assured me she ^^ hated" — when 
she recited her tears and prayers — her 
frantic assurance of innocence, her entreaties 
that he would not part her from her chil- 
dren — the pity of old stirred within my 
heart, and for one moment — one wild, mad, 
passionate moment — I reflected had I been 
but free, and that this chance had offered, I 
would, in spite of fifty husbands, have 
taken her to myself, and kept her — so 
far as it lay in the power of man to do it — 
free from harm and sorrow for ever. 

And then, thank God, that feeling passed 
away, for I remembered what she was, and 
what I, and that there lay between us that 
which no honest man, no virtuous woman, 
may ever cross. 

To me she might be Kose — but she was 
also Lady Surry ; to her I might be Tom, 



Lady Surry, 127 



the lover of her girlhood — but I was also 
Tom, the husband of another woman — the 
father of many children — ^who could never 
be aught to her in the future save friend or 
brother. 

He had tried to tire her out — to compel 
her to leave and return to her mother ; but 
here again Eose's persistency stood her in 
good stead. 

" I have done nothing wrong," she con- 
tended, " and I shall not go." 

Then he went himself, and had the chil- 
dren conveyed away likewise. 

"That was this morning," Eose ex- 
plained, *^and to-night I am here. I arrived 
in town about six o'clock, and went to an 
hotel and got a Directory, and found out 
where your chambers were. I did not wish 
to go to your house if I could avoid doing 
so." 

What a goose she was ! I, with my evil 
knowledge of the world — learned in a school 
where the world always turns its worst side 



128 My Last Love, 

out — stood aghast at her lack of the most 
ordinary prudence. 

Knowing her husband to be jealous — 
knowing there were a thousand tongues 
ready to make a nine days' tattle about her, 
waiting only the signal for attack to tear her 
fair fame to pieces, she left the secure 
shelter of her home, travelled to London 
without even a maid, drove to a grand West 
End Hotel, and came out at the latest time 
in the evening she could well select — to see 
me, it was true — but, so far as society was 
concerned, or knew, to see anybody. 

Thinking all this over, I said — 

" You must go back by the first train to- 
morrow morning." 

*'No," she replied, ^^I will never enter 
Walter Surry's house again." 

^^ Folly!" I exclaimed, and then she 
l)urst out crying. 

'^ He had taken everything from her she 
cared to have — all she wanted now was 
peace and her children." 



Lady Surry, 129 

^^ Then," I remarked, " you must come 
to my house ; if I am to interfere in this 
matter at all, you must follow my advice ; 
and I will have nothing to do with the 
business if you persist in staying alone at 
a London hotel, at the mercy of Dick, Tom, 
and Harry's good-natured inferences. In 
fact, you ought not to have come to London 
at all. A letter would have brought me 
to Grayborough by the first train. 

" Would it ? " she answered faintly — " I 
was afraid it might not." 

Might not — ah ! Eose. 

She still sat leaning back in her chair, 
with the fire-light playing over her face, 
and I could not help remarking how wan 
and changed she looked — ^how changed from 
the Eose Surry I had seen driving in the 
Park! 

'' Are you quite well ? " I asked at length, 
meeting her questioning glance. " I mean, 
do you feel strong, and in quite good health, 

VOL. III. K 



ISO My Last Love, 

excepting the fatigue consequent on your 
journey ? " 

^^Yes, quite," she answered; and then 
added, hurriedly — '^ Oh ! you will get me 
back my children, or I shall die ! " 

" And you will return to Grayborough.'* 
"No, the solitariness would drive me 
mad." 

" Will you come home with me ? " 
" Yes, anywhere not to be alone." 
'^ "We had better go at once, then," I re- 
marked, "and I will think over the best 
plan to pursue between this and to-morrow 
morning." 

She rose at my words like a child, and 
saying simply, " Thank you, Tom — I leave 
it all in your hands now," moved towards 
the door. On her way, however, she 
stopped, and, turning to me, asked ner- 
vously — 

" But your wife, — will she not object ? " 

"It is that you may have the protection 

of my wife I propose your coming to our 



^^ 



Lady Surry, * 131 



house ; only pray do not mention you have 
had any quarrel with your husband ; you 
<3an say you have come to town on business, 
and I thought it must be uncomfortable for 
you to stop at your great town establish- 
ment alone." 

She opened her eyes in astonishment at 
my advising her to even insinuate a false- 
hood, but said she would do whatever I told 
her, though she did not much like it. 

And you were right, my dear, and I 
ivrong, for the truth — no matter how in- 
expedient it may seem at first — is always 
best in the long run. I might have learned 
this in the course of my practice, but I had 
not, and behold the use I made of my 
worldly knowledge conned since the days 
when we walked together by stream, o'er 
lea, through copse, was to teach my darling 
in her extremity to be false — ^false with in- 
tention, spite of her cowardice, I verily 
believe, for the first time in all her 
life. 

X 2 



132 My Last Love, 



When we went out into pump Court, the 
rain was pouring in torrents, and she clung 
to me whilst I tried to shelter her with my 
umbrella. We walked together over the 
dripping pavement I had paced so many a 
hundred times alone, beneath the porch of 
the Temple Church, and so into Fleet 
Street. Then I left her in the shelter of 
a doorway for a minute, whilst I secured a 
cab. 

My darling, I have often wondered since 
what you thought of during those few 
seconds when you stood all alone in an un- 
familiar London street — all alone in the 
world, indeed except for me ! 

As we drove to my home, I called at the 
hotel where she had left her luggage, and 
desired the waiter to inform Sir Walter 
Surry when he arrived in town, that Lady 
Surry had gone to stay with her friends at 
the address I gave him. 

The man knew me by reputation. I had 
risen high enough in my profession for that, 



Lady Surry, 133 



and I felt thankful at having put the affair 
right so far. How Mrs. Luttrell might take 
Lady Surry's introduction to our domestic 
hearth at such a time of night, was quite 
another question, but one which had to be 
faced. My own opinion was, she would put 
Lady Surry's rank on the credit side of her 
mind, against the natural prejudice existing 
on the debit. 

She had known of my attachment to Eose. 
She was well aware I had loved the young 
lady very dearly, and it is never a pleasant 
thing for a woman to reflect she has caught a 
man's heart on the rebound — supposing she 
fancies she has caught it at all — for which 
reasons I did not think she would approve 
of Lady Surry's visit ; but then on the other 
hand she was Lady Surry, and I heard in 
imagination my Catharine discoursing to 
future callers concerning her visitor; I 
could see her mentally planning a journey 
to Grayborough in expectation of the invita- 
tion which must surely come ; and I could 



134 ^y Last Love, 

prophetically listen to her telling me in the 
dead of night what a nice connection it 
would prove in future days for the chil- 
dren. 

I thought of all this as we drove wearily 
along in the cab. Ah ! days long past, it 
was not in such prosaic musings I occupied 
myself when a boy I carried my future love 
home in my arms to the Hall ; or when a 
man I whispered my love to her in the 
spring twilight ! 

It all turned out as I expected : Mrs. Lut- 
trell did not quite like the intrusion, yet 
was she gracious and hospitable ; but I could 
see Eose did not take much to my wife. She 
shrank a little, it seemed to me, from the 
apparent warmth of Catharine's welcome, 
and she looked at me pitifully from time 
to time in a way which I should have in- 
terpreted to mean, even had she not 
afterwards translated it into words during 
my wife's momentary absence from the 
room — 



Lady Surry » 135 



^^ Oh ! Tom, if she knew how it all^was, 
she would not wish me to be here." 

^^ We must put it right then,'' I answered 
cheerfully, and the poor little soul went to 
bed happier, I think. 



136 



CHAPTEE VII. 

ALL WRONG. 

The first hours of that night which ought to 
have been devoted to slumber, were spent 
by Catharine in questioning and cross-ques- 
tioning me concerning Lady Surry ; and con- 
sidering the practice I had gone through in 
that sort of thing — cross-questioning other 
people — I caruiot say I came out of the 
ordeal well. 

During the course of that conversation I 
told her a great many things which would 
have inevitably resulted in a prosecution for 
perjury had they been stated on oath. She 
wanted to know so much, too much. She 



All Wrong, 137 



asked me how I knew Lady Surry was in 
London, — if she had sent for me, — how it 
happened that the servants were not at the 
town house, — above all, how it chanced 
Lady Surry had not brought her maid. 

" Good gracious," I answered, ^^ I never 
imagined you wanted the maid. Shall I 
send for her in the morning ? " 

"No! oh, no!'' Catharine said, adding 
next moment, however, regretfully, ^' but 
the servants may wonder, you know." 

^'So they may, with all my heart," I 
replied ; '^ still, if you want the maid, have 
her by all means. My notion is, however, 
she will only make our people discontented." 

'-'• Indeed, that is very true," Mrs. Luttrell 
kindly agreed, and there ensued a silence, 
which was broken by my wife saying, a 
minute or so afterwards — - 

" Do you not think we might manage to 
give a party whilst Lady Surry is with us ? " 

^^ Certainly ; but had we not one a fort- 
night ago ? " 



138 My Last Love. 

'' Yes,— only— " 

" Oh, if you want to give another, I have 
no objection ; however, I do not think it 
can be whilst Lady Surry is here, as I know 
she wishes to stay in town as short a time as 
possible." 

^^Idid not think of that," murmured 
Catharine, and I fondly hoped she was going 
to sleep ; but no, she commenced in a second 
or two again, fresher than ever, trying to 
pump from me what business it was on which 
Kose had come to London. 

Now, in a general way, this was a proceed- 
ing to which I should have put an immediate 
stop, for I never had spoken to my wife 
about my clients, and I did not allow her to 
speak concerning them to me, but on this 
occasion I proved a coward — I think men 
always are cowards when speaking to women 
about women — and put her off, or tried to 
do so, until she faiiiy compelled me to make 
up a falsehood for her special benefit, and 
tell her a long story about a relation of Sir 



All Wrong, 139. 



Walter's who had been entrapped into a low 
match, and got into trouble, and that Eose 
had thought of me, and offered to come up 
to London to see what could be done. 

The story was true enough in one respect, 
though not with respect to Eose. My own 
brother Stephen had got into just a similar 
scrape, and the narrative consequently flowed 
on easily and smoothly enough. Catharine 
believed it implicitly, all the more readily, 
perhaps, because I cautioned her on no ac- 
count to mention the matter to Lady Surry. 

"She is in great trouble, and does not 
look at all well," I finished ; " and I should 
not like her to think I had spoken about her 
and Sir "Walter's concerns to any one. 
"While she is here I wish you would write a 
line to Joan, and ask her to spend a day 
with us. She and Lady Surry used to be 
great friends." 

" And so were you and she,'' remarked 

Catharine. By the change in her tone I 

hi 1 :n id 3 a mistake in saying anything 



I40 My Last Love. 

about Joan. " You were very much in love 
with her once, were you not ? " 

^^ I was," I answered, '' when I was a boy 
— a long time ago — but that was before I 
ever saw you, Catharine." 

I tried to say this tenderly, but I failed. 
The memory of my first love was very 
present with me at that moment — my first 
love, who, in those blessed, far-away days, 
had been to me like child, wife, sister, friend 
— all in one. 

That night I dreamed a very strange 
dream. I was on the bank of that well- 
remembered river once more, Joan and Eose 
stood on the little promontory of gravel, 
with hands outstretched towards the bag, 
which floated rapidly away. I tried to 
arrest its progress, but, failing to do so, 
stepped from the stones into the water, and 
pursued it down the stream. Suddenly the 
water deepened, and at the same moment I 
saw it was Eose herself who was being 
carried away by the current. 



All Wrons:. 141 



'fc» 



Desperately I struck out in pursuit, for I 
was abeady out of my depth. Panting and 
gasping, I swam on, never able, however, to 
get near enough to catch her dress, which I 
still beheld gleaming white and limp on the 
bosom of the waters. 

We were in a great river by this time, 
but there was not a boat on its surface, not 
a creature on its banks. I looked if there 
were no one I could shout to — no one who 
would give me help — and then, seeing there 
was none to save, I dashed forward with 
fresh energy. 

Even now — after many, many years — I 
can recall every circumstance of that dream ; 
I can feel the water licking my lips — ^the 
strain of my muscles as my arms clave the 
water ; I can see the peaceful greenness of 
the banks growing more and more distant 
every moment ; I can follow the light figure 
floating on more and more rapidly. I re- 
member the mad, passionate despair that 
rent my very heart — the impotent agony of 



142 My Last Love, 

my soul. I make once again a final struggle, 
and through the waters seke my darling's 
dress; then there comes a great darkness 
hefore my eyes, as there came in that vision 
— some one unseen before, interposes between 
us, tears Eose's gown from my grasp, and 
bears me with painful strength to the bank, 
where I recognise my wife ! 

It does me harm to write about all this. 
As my memory portrays once more that 
scene, I lay down my pen, and pace the 
room. Oh ! Eose — my love ! my life ! 

And yet what folly all this is ! I recollect 
thinking just the same thing, thinking it 
was all senseless folly, when, after awaken- 
ing, trembling and afraid, I lay through 
the hours of that weary night talking to my 
own soul. 

The woman was nothing to me. She had 
elected to marry another husband, and 
quarrel with him. There was no Eose Surry 
for Tom Luttrell now, only Lady Surry — 
Sir "Walter's wife — my client. 



All Wrong, 143 



That this should be so, I resolved — 
resolved with all the strength of my mind — 
viz., whilst Lady Surry stayed with us, my 
house should see less of me even than usual. 
There were certain things it was needful for 
me to do in her interest — certain letters to 
write, certain interviews to seek — above all, 
I had to find Sir "Walter Surry ; but there 
existed no necessity for me to remain long 
at home or to return there early, and conse- 
quently for two days Lady Surry and I 
never met. 

Then she took the extremer step of coming 
again to my chambers ; but this time with 
Joan — dear, loving Joan, to whom she had 
told everything, and who proved in this time 
of need as staunch a friend as she had been 
a true daughter. It was on this occasion 
Eose explained how she came to marry Sir 
"Walter, as if that mattered to me now or 
could make the present better, the future 
happier. Afterwards we talked about her 
position. 



144 ^y L<^st Love, 

^' I will let Joan know the moment there 
is news of any kind," I said ; but, as they 
were leaving, I held my sister back, and 
added — '' For mercy's sake, keep her from 
me. I cannot bear it. And I cannot make 
her understand." 

" Dear Tom," Joan answered softly, and 
the tears were in her eyes as she spoke the 
words. 

What did they find to talk about, my 
wife and Lady Surry ? Doubtless of their 
children ; and I used often to fancy Eose 
drawing mine to her, and fondling and 
petting them, both because she was a mother 
herself, and because she remembered — and 
then I was wont to grow hard and angry in 
a moment when this softening picture was 
turned and the canvas reversed — when I 
saw her in imagination looking for something 
in my children which they lacked — searching 
their mother's face for qualities she instinc- 
tively desired to find, but could not, and then 
turning for comfort to Joan — the tender, 
brave, impulsive self-reliant Joan of old. 



All Wrong, 145 

When a man lias made a mistake in the 
building of his life's house, he is never so 
disappointed with his own want of skill as 
with the house itself. 

That was my case in those few short days, 
which seemed to lengthen themselves out 
into years. Heaven pardon me ! 

But what else did those two women talk 
about ? I have since ascertained that Catha- 
rine devoted some portion of that abundant 
leisure with which Providence had blessed 
her to cross-examining Eose, as she cross- 
examined me, but with much greater 
success. 

Eose was but a poor dissembler, and ere 
long my Catharine knew she had never been 
to the great town house at all, and that she 
had come to my chambers on that winter's 
night, when I was supposed to have been 
ceremoniously invited to an interview — all 
of which incongruities Mrs. Luttrell kept 
sacredly and secretly within her own breast, 
as within a storehouse, wherefrom, when 

VOL. III. L 



146 My Last Love. 



the evil days came, coals of fire were to be 
heaped on the head of an ofi'ending husband. 

No human being would believe the trouble 
I had to ascertain Sir Walter Surry's where- 
abouts. 

Subsequently I have reason to know this 
was attributed to me as a sin, Mrs. Luttrell 
arguing, with the usual logical accuracy of 
her sex, that if I had wanted to find him I 
could have done so ; but this was not the 
case. For some time he had led so wander- 
ing a life, that not even his most intimate 
friends could indicate his whereabouts with 
certainty, and it was therefore necessary for 
me to track him down step by step, which 
at length I did. 

Even then, however, I could not im- 
mediately start in pursuit, for I had been 
retained on an important case, and even for 
Eose I coidd not throw up my brief and 
desert a cause I had made my own, and 
which I ultimately won. 

Women say a man never truly loves 



All Wrong, 147 



them unless he be wiUing to do anything for 
their dear sakes — and I fancy the women 
are right. That individual who observed — 

" I could not love, thee, dear, so much. 
Loved I not honour more," 

never certainly had fallen over head and 
ears. « 

In the days when Eose was still my 
possible Eose, I should like to have seen 
the retainer that could have kept me from 
her side ; but now, alas ! Rose was not even 
possibly my Eose, and rent and trades- 
people and her Majesty's tax-collector, had 
to be satisfied as well as my client's interest 
served. 

Heavens ! what a life this would be if it 
could always be only apple-blossoms and 
Eose ; but then, alas ! both Eose and apple- 
blossoms are expensive — the one involves an 
establishment, and the other a gardener. 

Why — oh ! why did Adam and Eve leave 
Eden ? Was it that Eve wanted to see the 
latest fashion-book, and that Adam disliked 

L 2 



148 My Last Love. 

the trouble of gathering peas for dinnerj and 
fruit for dessert ? 

If only there could be a second garden pf 
Eden planted, say in the Thames Yalley, or 
on the top of Eichmond Hill, I think I might 
promise to refrain from any dozen trees the 
owner of that freehold desired to keep intact. 

There is an observation, however, I desire 
to add. 

Should any one reading these lines be 
tempted to present me with the like, I 
should prefer Paradise, without any Eve 
who could now be brought to me. 

Alas ! that we should outlive our illusions. 
I think as little of women at this present 
moment as I dare say most women who 
understand the world think of men — that is 
to say, we may get on comfortably enough 
without the grand passions, the profound 
despair, the mad agony, the rapturous joy 
we once thought necessary to make up the 
whole romance of life. 

For, behold, life is not a romance, but 



All Wrong, 1^9 



a reality — full of such stern sorrows, and 
such bitter tragedies, as might make the 
ringlets of romance itself fall out of curl. 

But all this time Eose and her affairs are 
waiting. 

The moment I had finished my speech in 
the case to which allusion has already been 
made, without waiting even to hear the 
verdict, I left the court, repaired to my 
chambers, divested myself of wig and gown, 
put on a thick overcoat, directed my clerk to 
telegraph result of the trial to me, took a 
cab to Euston Square, and was soon on my 
way to Crommingford. 

I ascertained Sir "Walter had returned to 
Grayborough almost directly after his wife 
left, and knowing of how little use letters 
are in explaining away, or smoothing down 
conjugal differences, it was my intention to 
seek a face to face interview, and beard the 
lion in his den. 

Since the time when I went down to 
claim my bride, and found her married. 



150 My Last Love, 

I had never been in that part of the country 
at all, and as I strode along the remembered 
roads it seemed impossible to realise the free, 
happy life I once led, wandering by the 
mill stream, and parting the hedges to find 
out the blue-bonnet's nest. 

It seemed to me still more strange to 
recollect that people like the Surrys had 
then appeared almost too great and grand to 
approach — that the then Lady Surry, now 
a dowager, had been able to snub me very 
effectually, and that even their butler, se- 
date and white neck-clothed, inspired me 
with a very sufficient^ awe. 

As for Gray borough, time was when I 
should have entered its gates with fear and 
trembling, and scarcely dared to ask for 
an interview with its owner, but now so 
assured and confident were my manners, 
that the old woman at the lodge dropped me 
a respectful curtsey, and the footman who 
graciously received my card was almost 
deferential in his reception. 



All Wrong. 151 



In those remote regions it could not be 
that any one knew aught concerning me, but 
I knew myself that I had made a certain 
mark in law and in letters, and this was 
sufficient both for myself and for other 
people. 

How Sir Walter might take my visit was 
of course quite another matter. If he re- 
fused to see me, I intended to return to mine 
inn, and send him thence an explanatory 
epistle ; if he refused to read that, I resolved 
upon adopting another course. But the 
baronet saved me the trouble of resorting to 
either plan by walking, high and mighty, 
proud and conscious, stately and unbending, 
into the library where I sat. 

I rose as he entered, and we bowed — we 
two stiffly bowed to each other — then lie 
motioned me to resume my seat, and throw- 
ing himself into an easy-chair, inquired, 

" To what fortunate circumstances am I 
to attribute the honour of this visit, Mr. 
LuttreU ? " 



152 My Last Love, 



He laid such a stress on the last two 
words, that I knew in a moment that he had 
neither forgotten nor forgiven me. 

'^ I come here on behalf of your wife, Sir 
Walter," I replied calmly. 

'^I suspected as much," he said, and his 
face flushed, and his eyes sparkled. ^^I 
can hear nothing on, I can brook no inter- 
ference in, the matter." 

" Pardon me, Sir Walter, but you must," 
I answered. ^^ I am here as Lady Surry's 
next friend — not as her legal adviser — I am 
here as her father might be were he living, 
or as her brother, if she possessed one, to 
try to put a wrong right between you." 

^^ It is impossible," he answered. ^'I^o- 
thing can ever be right between us again ; 
she has left her home of her own accord, and 
she shall never enter these doors more ! " 

^' You are quite sure of that ? " I said. 

"As sure as that I am standing here," 
he replied. 

He had risen in his excitement, and was- 



All Wro7ig. 153 



standing beside the library table, with his 
clenched hand resting upon it. 

^' Pray do not agitate yourself — sit down," 
I suggested. It was a cool thing to say to 
a man in his own house, but he did as I 
bade him, and resumed his seat. ^^ I have 
no wish to proceed to extreme measures at 
present," I went on. ^^I have come down 
from London to talk the matter over with 
• you quietly, man to man." 

^^I have told you already I will not dis- 
cuss it," he said. 

^^ And I have told you that I mean you 
to hear me. Of course," I went on hur- 
riedly, ^' I have only listened to one side 
of the story — that related by Lady Surry — 
but so far as I understood, there cannot be 
a question of her entire innocence." 

^' The question of her guilt or innocence 
is one which shall never be entered upon 
privately or publicly by me," he answered. 
^' She has left her home, she has virtually 
ceased to be my wife, and she can never in 



154 My Last Love. 

the future be more to me than she is at this 
moment." 

^^You think it then fair to condemn a 
woman upon mere suspicion ? " 

" Suspicion, sir! have I not ample proof?" 

'^ I think not," was my answer. '^You 
have not a tittle of evidence which you 
could take before any judge or jury in the 
land." 

^^ I never intend to take it before judge 
or jury," he exclaimed. 

^^ Possibly not, but she may, and it is to 
avert so terrible a calamity that I am now 
here." 

I said this very slowly and deliberately, 
and I could see it produced its impression. 
Sir Walter had looked at the matter hitherto 
entirely from one point of view — his own — 
the idea of Eose taking any action had evi- 
dently never occurred to him, and he sat 
thinking over my words, whilst I went on. 

'' You have condemned an innocent and 
helpless woman on mere suspicion, you have 



All Wrong, 155 



separated her from her children without a 
shadow of real proof against her, you have 
done what you never dare have done had 
she owned a single male relative " 

^^Stop!" exclaimed the baronet. ''I 
x^annot allow assertions such as these to pass 
uncontradicted. I had ample reason for the 
course I adopted. Even her own mother 
•says I have not been unduly harsh." 

'^ Sir Walter Surry/' I replied, '^before 
you ever beheld your wife's mother, I was 
well acquainted with her, and considering 
the extent of our mutual knowledge, you 
are not, I presume, going to take shelter 
behind her petticoats. She never cared for 
her daughter, she never gave her love or 
tenderness, and she sides with you now not 
only because you are the stronger power, 
but because she is, and has always been, 
jealous of her daughter, and desired to 
secure for herself the man who has been the 
^cause of all this unhappiness between your- 
rself and your wife." 



156 My Last Love, 

'^ Your authority for this ? " he inquired. 

''Nay, your authority rather for vile and 
wicked calumnies against your wife, who 
has never wronged you in thought or word or 
deed, but whom you drove from your home, 
to seek the advice of the only true friend 
she possessed in all the earth." 

''It is perhaps as well to be accurate," 
retorted Sir Walter, with an angry sneer. 
" It does not appear to me that you have 
exactly described your position." 

"I do not know what system of morals 
may obtain in your rank," I replied, hotly, for 
his tone was as insulting as his meaning was 
offensive, " but in mine, when a man marries 
it is thought only decent that if ever he have 
been the lover of another woman, he should 
try to forget the fact. My feeling towards 
Lady Surry now is as pure as it was when I 
carried her home a child to her father's 
house. What the loss of her proved to me^ 
neither you nor any other human being can, 
ever imagine — how it changed me and myr 



All Wrong. 157 



life no one may ever know — but I did not 
come here to talk about myself. I have 
come to say you have committed a great 
wrong, wbicli you must and shall set right." 

He did not take this speech angrily, as 
might have been expected ; he sat silent for 
a minute, and then, careful not to lose my 
advantage, I went on. I told him how I 
had seen the man the cause of all this 
unhappiness riding years before with Eose, 
how she had left him to come and speak to 
me, how I had since questioned her about 
the events of that time, and elicited that he 
had then proposed for her and been rejected. 
I afterwards proceeded to relate hoAV I had 
sought him in London, and entreated him to 
explaia the reason which could possibly 
have emboldened him to address the letters to 
Lady Surry which had excited her husband's 
anger. I prayed of him if he had preserved 
any of her notes to let me see them. 

^'I have every line in my pocket, Sir 
Walter, she ever wrote to him," I finished. 



158 My Last Love. 

'^ No human being could extract conscious- 
ness of guilt out of them. She was foolish 
and frightened, and even imprudent, I 
admit, but remember it was your own 
neglect which laid her open to his impor- 
tunities. Even had Lady Surry gone off 
with him, there is no one who, knowing all 
the circumstances, could say otherwise than 
that the fault lay with you. "Will you 
read those letters ? " 

" I will not,'' he said. '' My mind is 
quite made up about the matter. You have' 
probably meant well in coming here, but 
you might have saved yourself the trouble. 
My wife shall never return here." 

^' Is that your final answer ? " I asked. 

^^It is my final answer," he repeated. 
^' I will never live with a woman who has 
been even talked about. Had she ever 
cared for me, ever loved me, ever married 
me for anything but wealth and position, 
this thing could not have happened. No 
man would have dared to insult her with 
the mention of his love." 



All Wrong. 159 



''I will leave these letters with you," I 
said, more shaken by his words and manner 
than I should then have cared to acknow- 
ledge. ^^ Whether you read or not, I trust 
to your honour to return them. I procured 
them with infinite difficulty, and it was not 
till I made Mr. Lovell Allen understand / 
intended Lady Surry should for the future 
be protected from him, and that she should 
be put right with the world, if not with 
you, that he gave way. I had another 
indirect hold over him, too, or perhaps he 
might not have proved so docile ; but at all 
events there are her letters, and if you take 
my advice you will read them carefully." 

^^ Keep them and your advice also, sir," 
he answered. 

"You positively refuse then to do justice 
to Lady Surry ? " I said, rising. 

" I have done her full and sufficient jus- 
tice," he replied. 

"If that be yoiu* belief," I remarked, "it 
will then become my duty to counsel Lady 



i6o My Last Love, 

Surry to seek the advice of some respectable 
solicitor, and to take whatever steps he may 
recommend for the purpose of re-establishing 
her position." 

" You intend then to constitute yourself 
the champion of a married woman," he said 
with a sneer, which proved my last threat 
had taken effect. ^' It is a thankless and a 
dangerous office. As you have given me so 
much valuable advice gratuitously, let me 
return the compliment by saying I should 
recommend you not to meddle in affairs that 
in no way concern you." 

I turned to leave the room sick at heart — 
I had done my best, and my best had failed 
— I thought of the sweet, pitiful yearning 
face. I marvelled how I was ever to tell 
her, how merciless and stony he had proved. 
There did not seem another word of argu- 
ment at my disposal ; I could only say to 
him just what I felt, and I said it. 

^' God help any married woman whose 
husband turns against her — for she is more 



All Wrong, 161 



lonely than a widow. I marvel, Sir Walter, 
how you dared marry a mere child like that, 
meaning to take no better care of her than yon 
have done. Hers has been a wretched lot — 
mother and husband alike cruel and neglect- 
ful. When I think of her as I first saw her, 
a lonely delicate little creature, in terror of 
a harsh mother, and when I think of her as 
I saw her in my chambers in London, a still 
more desolate woman, weeping over your 
cruel injustice, I feel a pity for her I could 
not speak, and an indignation against you I 
could not express." 

And with that confession of faith, as there 
was nothing more to be gained by civility or 
diplomacy, I left the room, Sir Walter cere- 
moniously opening the door for me to pass 
out, and bowing haughtily in answer to my 
curt leave-taking. 

The footman preceded me through the 
hall, and with a ceremony equal to that of his 
master, opened the front door to afford me 
egress. I walked down the avenue, I passed 

VOL. III. M 



1 62 My Last Love. 

through the entrance gates, where the lodge- 
keeper curtseyed to me as before. I walked 
straight back to the inn, where I hastily- 
swallowed some cold meat and bread whilst 
a gig was being got ready to take me to the 
station ; then buttoning up my coat and 
wrapping my rug about me, I drove off, the 
well-remembered landscape stretching away 
in the distance, sweet and peaceful as of old, 
with as sad a heart as I had carried in my 
breast for many and many a long day. 

"When I arrived at the station, the first 
person I saw was Sir Walter Surry, mounted 
on a magnificent black horse that stood 
pawing with its feet and champing at the 
bit, anxious apparently to be off again, 
though it was evident he had been ridden to 
the station at no gentle pace. 

" One word with you, Mr. Luttrell, if you 
please," said Sir Walter, and as I jumped 
from the gig he alighted from his steed. 

^' You may as well leave me those letters 
you spoke of; you shall receive them back 
again* quite safely," 



All Wrong, 163 



I could have uttered a shout of joy at 
hearing this, for I knew he was relenting, 
but I was careful not to betray my feelings ; 
so without a word I handed him the packet, 
raised my hat, and hurried on to the plat- 
form just in 'time to secure a comfortable 
seat with my back to the engine, a matter 
about which I am very particular. 

It is marvellous how careful we become 
of our bodies, when all the hope and love 
and freshness that made existence so bright 
to us has departed just like '^ Life's young 
dream." 



M 2 



1 64 



CHAPTER VIII. 

RECONCILED. 

I TRAVELLED back to town a very happy 
man. I was not afraid now of meeting Eose, 
for though there was no positive good news 
to report, at least the tidings I could now 
bear were hopeful. It all, however, went 
to prove that a man's deliberate words may 
often avail very little, that it is generally 
the arrow shot at a venture which hits the 
mark, after a careful aim has failed. It was 
the chance sentence I had spoken in my 
pain and my anger which pierced Walter 
Surry's coat of mail, which penetrated his 
vanity and his pride, and made him remember 

M 2 



Reconciled. 1 65 



that, after all, there might be another side 
to the question at which it was his duty to 
look. She was the mother of his children, 
the wife of his choice, and I felt satisfied 
that, although he might not relent at once, he 
would relent in time, and taking Eose back, 
make her a more careful, tender, loving 
husband than had ever been the case before. 
On my return to town, I intended also to 
have a serious conversation with Eose her- 
self, to point out the mistakes she had made, 
to induce her to strive in the future better 
to comprehend her husband's nature. I 
doubted the chances of my success, but I 
thought if she would listen to advice from 
any one she would from me, and strive to 
follow it ; at all events, I meant to try. So 
I spent most part of the journey considering 
what I wanted to say and how I had best 
say it — most of all how I could induce her 
to write such a letter to Sir Walter as 
might touch his heart and induce him to 
believe she was not so entirely indifferent 



i66 My Last Love, 

to her husband as she was devoted to her 
children. 

By the time I reached Euston Square it 
was late, and the streets as I drove through 
them to my chambers looked cheerless and 
sloppy. A drizzling rain was falling ; the 
few people who were abroad hurried along 
with umbrellas up, the air was misty and 
heavy and dull, and a depression for which 
I could in no way account, seeing that busy 
men are not usually much affected by ex- 
ternal influences, took possession of me. 

I tried to cheer myself by thinking of the 
comparatively good news I should be able 
to communicate. I pictured the sweet smile 
that would thank me, the grateful eyes 
lifted for a moment to mine, and then I 
understood what was the matter with me, 
that the jade Memory was at her tricks 
again, and that it behoved me to be very, 
very careful of my own soul, lest for one mo- 
ment I should forget Eose was Lady Surry 
and I Catharine LuttrelPs husband. 



Reconciled. 167 



Oh I my dear, I loved you first aud I 
loved you last with a passion no one but 
myself can even imagine ; but I thank God 
now to remember that through all that time, 
which was a time of struggle and anguish 
to me, when you trusted youi' future, 
your fair fame, and yourself in my care, I 
never held your hand, or looked into your 
changed face with a thought I should have 
minded the angels recording in the Eternal 
Books. 

It would soon be over, however, I hoped 
— the ordeal ; the weary self-restraint ; the 
the continual temptation to forget, to believe 
the time of our enforced separation a dream, 
and that we might still be more to one 
another than we had been in the happy years 
gone by. 

Honestly I had served her, in all honour 
I had held aloof from her. She came to me 
as to her only friend, and as a friend I 
worked for her. 

What if I could not quite forget ? if I felt 



1 68 My Last Love. 

it needful to keep out of her way ? ah ! my 
reader, I was only flesh and blood, and I had 
loved this woman once with a love which I 
knew now could never die. 

When I got out of the cab the rain was 
still falling, so I bade the man wait for me, 
as I merely intended calling at my chambers 
to inquire what letters there might be lying 
there ere hurrying home. 

Since Lady Surry came to me I had 
worked later than ever in Pump Court, but 
I meant to reach home on this particular 
night before she retired to her room, so as 
to tell her the result of my journey. 

Full of this design, I hurried into Pump 
Court, and so up some stone steps to the 
door of the house where were my chambers. 

It was wide open, and, to my amazement, 
I saw Joan standing in the hall talking to 
the housekeeper. 

'^Oh, here is Mr. Luttrell ! " exclaimed 
the latter, who stood facing the court, and 
consequently beheld my entrance. 



Reconciled. 169 



^^ Tom, I am so thankful you have come 
back," Joan said, laying an emphasis on the 
thankful, which filled me with an indescrib- 
able alarm. 

^^ What is it?" I asked—'' my father '' 

''No, there is no one dead," she said, 
answering my unfinished sentence and my 
unspoken thought. " Let us go upstairs 
for a moment, and I will tell you why I am 
here," and she led the waj' to my room, 
where a fire was burning, and the lamp 
already lighted. 

Joan closed the door, and then came close 
beside me. There was a look in her face 
that made me tremble, though I could not 
have told what I dreaded. 

" Before I say a word," she began, " you 
must promise not to be angry." 

"Do not be foolish, Joan," I answered; 
" tell me in one word what is wrong." 

" Promise me," she insisted. 

"Well, I will promise — go on." 

"The fact is, Tom," she hesitated, and 



170 My Last Love, 

then proceeded — ''somehow Catharine has 
ascertained that matters are not all right 
between Sir Walter and Eose. Some kind 
friend has been making her believe there 
is going to be a divorce, and all sorts of 
things — and " 

'' Finish, Joan," I said. 

"JSTot whilst you look like that," Joan 
retorted. 

"Look like what?" I answered guiltily, 
and, making a desperate effort, I hid the 
demon that I knew was glaring out of my 
face. 

'' Well, you know it was natural," Joan 
resumed, '' Catharine thought we had all 
been deceiving her, and she could not quite 
forget how fond you used to be of Eose — 
and some one must have been advising her 
badly — for " 

" If you do not finish, Joan, you will 
send me insane," I said. " What has 
Catharine said or done that should bring 
you here at this time of the night ?" 



Reconciled. 171 



'^ Oh ! Tom, you must not be angry — but 
she said Eose and she could not stay in the 
same house any longer, and so Eose and I 
have left." 

^' And where is Eose ?" 

'^ She is waiting for me in a cab in Essex 
Street ; it was too late to come down Middle 
Lane." 

'* Come along, Joan," I cried, turning 
towards the door, and my voice sounded 
to myself hoarse and changed as I 
spoke. 

"What do you mean to do?" Joan 
asked. 

" See whether Mrs. Luttrell will refuse 
to receive any person I choose to take to my 
house. Rose shall stay there, by " 

But Joan covered my mouth with her 
hand. 

" Tom," she began, hanging on my arm, 
and hindering my progress from the room, 
" listen to me. If you take Eose back there 
you will kill her — do you understand me ? 



172 My Last Love. 

— kill her ! She is not strong enough to 
endure a scene ; she is quite exhausted now 
with driving for so many hours. The best 
thing we can do is to take her to some hotel 
for the night, and get quiet lodgings to- 
morrow. We have been going about all 
the evening trying to get apartments, for I 
knew you did not want her to go to an 
hotel ; but I could not find a suitable place 
where they would take us in on the instant. 
Oh ! Tom, do not be angry, but think what 
is best for Eose ; do not think of anybody 
but her ; if you do, you will only be making 
bad worse. Where had we better take her ? 
she is perfectly worn out. Your house- 
keeper has been telling me about some 
lodgings in IN'orfolk Street, but she does 
not know whether they are vacant." 

^^ Let us go back to Eose, and I will see 
what can be done," I answered, and Joan, 
wrapping her shawl closely about her, ran 
down the stairs and out into the drizzling 
rain. 



Reconciled, 1 73 



I felt like one crazed as I followed her. 
To think of Eose being driven forth like 
this — driven forth with contumely — driven 
forth from my house by my wife ! I do not 
know what I said in my despair — I only 
remember Joan bidding me hush — I only 
remember staggering thi'ough the night, 
through the courts and passages of the 
Temple, like one drunk, and reaching the 
door of the cab, where she sat huddled up in 
one corner, crying like a child. 

'' Why did you not take her to South- 
gate ?" I asked Joan, savagely. 

'^ Because she would not go," Joan 
answered, and Eose moaned out that she 
could not take herself and her troubles into 
any person's house again. 

I went and secured the lodgings men- 
tiond by my housekeeper, and then brought 
Eose and Joan to them. When I assisted 
the former to alight, however, she fainted 
away in my arms, and I carried her up to the 
dreary sitting-room, where the maid-of-all- 
work was striving to kindle a fire. 



174 My Last Love, 

I never beheld anything in all my life 
which impressed me with such a sense of 
utter desolation and misery as that scene — 
the cold, cheerless room, the nntidy servant, 
the dim light provided by a couple of com- 
posite candles, the dark bed-chamber re- 
vealed through folding-doors that stood 
partly open, Joan and the landlady trying 
to bring Eose — what the latter called ^^ to.'* 
Oh ! merciful Providence ! will the events 
of that night ever fade from, my recollection? 
shall I ever forget the devil which stirred 
within me at that sight. 

^^Tom," Joan said at last, ^' you had 
better go for a doctor." 

And I went. 

By the time I returned — it was a long 
time, for not a medical man I called upon 
was at home — they had undressed Eose, and 
got her into bed ; and whilst I sat in the 
front room, the doctor went in to see her, 
and I waited in an agony of terror till he 
should return and give me his report. 



Reconciled 175 



" I do not think you need be uneasy, sir," 
he said, when he had creaked slowly and 
solemnly back to where I stood. " Your 
good lady is very delicate — very." 

How I hated the man, even whilst I 
mentally blessed him. 

"The lady is not my wife, doctor," I 
interrupted ; " but I have known her since 
she was a child, and my sister will remain 
with her here till she is strong enough to be 
removed." 

I said all this quite steadily, for I was 
determined there should be no misconception 
on the part of anybody as to the relation in 
which we stood. 

'^ But she is married ? " the doctor ques- 
tioned. 

'' Yes — but her husband is not in 
London at present. Should you, however, 
consider her case at all serious, I will tele- 
graph for him." 

" There is no immediate danger," he 
answered, thoughtfully ; " she is certainly 



176 My Last Love. 

very delicate, but still, with care and 
nourishment — I can tell better in the morn- 
ing," he hurried on — "I will write a pre- 
scription now, if you favour me with pen 
and ink. Pray what is the name of my 
patient?" 

For one second I hesitated, then said, 
distinctly — 

^^ Lady Surry." 

^^ I beg your pardon," he remarked po- 
litely, 

^^Lady Surry," I repeated still more 
distinctly ; then, perceiving he could not 
quite understand me, I added — '^Wife to 
Sir "Walter Surry, of Grayborough." 

He did not make a remark after this, he 
only wrote out his prescription, pocketed 
his fee, and departed. Clearly a discreet 
man, who, though he comprehended there 
was a mystery, did not think it his duty to 
inquire further into it. 

After he was gone, Joan came to me. 
Eose was, she said, better. I need not be 
unhappy. Had I any news ? 



Reconciled. 177 



^^ Yes," I answered ; ^^ I had seen Sir 
Walter, and thought he would ultimately 
relent." 

*' That will be a tonic for her in itself," 
Joan exclaimed; ^'and now, dear Tom, I 
want to say one single word to you before 
you go home." 

^^ I am not going home to-night," I an- 
swered. " I will get this prescription made 
up, leave it here, and then return to Pump 
Court. I shall be round early in the morn- 
ing to know how Kose has rested." 

'^ Eut, Tom, what does this mean ? " 

'^ That I am going to stay for the night 
in Pump Court — and that reminds me the 
cab which brought me from the station has 
been waiting for a couple of hours in Pleet 
Street. I must go and dismiss it." 

^^ Tom," she put a hand on each shoulder, 
and looked steadily into my face. 

'' Yes, Joan." 

^* You are not going to quarrel with your 
wife ? " 

VOL. III. N 



178 My Last Love, 



" You should never interfere between man 
and wife, Joan; what I choose to do, or 
leave undone, that I shall do, or not do, you 
may depend upon it," 

^^ On the whole it is perhaps as well you 
should not return home to-night." 

" I am surely the best judge of that." 

" Ah ! Tom, for the sake of dear old 
times do not talk in that cold, short, cynical 
way. It will not make things a bit better, 
and it makes you — oh ! ever so much 



worse." 



And then she fell to crying, and I kissed 
and bade her hold her peace. 

Next morning the report was that Eose 
had rested tolerably; but the doctor said 
she had caught cold, and must be kept very 
quiet ; and so she went on for some days^ 
sometimes staying in her bed, sometimes 
lying on the sofa, but always remaining very 
delicate and weakly, and still there came no 
letter from Sir Walter Surry, although she 
at my earnest entreaty had written to him. 



Reconciled, 179 



At the end of that time Joan sent for 
further advice, which came in a natty- 
brougham, and assumed the shape of a 
portly gentleman, who carried an immense 
watch, and treated Doctor Snelling with 
exaggerated respect, insisting on his going 
first, and listening to all he had to say with 
an air of intensest interest. 

When they had consulted together, and 
seen the patient once more, and the great 
man had written out his prescription and 
pocketed Ids fee, I waylaid him on the way 
to his brougham, and asked his real opinion 
of Eose. 

^^For if there be any actual danger," I 
suggested, ^^ I must telegraph for her hus- 
band." 

The portly gentleman stood still on the 
pavement, and looked at me from head to 
foot, as though there were something sin- 
gular about my organization which it 
would please him to anatomize; then he 
said — 

N 2 



i8o My Last Love, 



" If there be any actual danger — my 
dear sir, the lady's life is not worth a 
month's purchase. She is dying at this 
moment as fast as she knows how. God 
bless the man — why what are you to 
her ? " 

I do not remember much about that day. 
I telegraphed to Sir "Walter Surry — I went 
into court ; but I cannot recollect what I 
said ; it was all right, though, I suppose, as 
no complaint of carelessness ever reached 
my ears. I went back to my chambers after 
Court, and found Sir "Walter Surry there 
before me. 

When he asked about her, I inquired 
what it signified to him. He had been 
doubtful, I felt, as to whether the whole 
thing were not a ruse ; but when he beheld 
me standing looking at the fire — which I 
could not see clearly — he understood there 
was no deception — that m?/ Eose — mine 
through all — was gliding swiftly away. 



Reconciled. 1 8 1 



"What is the matter, what was the cause 
of it ? " he asked at length. 

" Do not ask me," I said, '' my heart is 
broken." And I verily believe it did break 
when that portly gentleman told me in the 
sullen gloom of a winter's morning that she 
was dying as fast as she knew how. 

For I could not disguise from myself the 
fact that my wife had killed her — that the 
fragile plant, which might have been tended 
and fostered back to health, was unable to 
bear the exposure and fatigue of that weary 
winter's evening. I ought never to have 
taken her to my home — never told Catharine 
falsehoods about her — never put it in the 
power of a cold, merciless woman to speak to 
Eose as I knew she had been spoken to — 
never left her to be thrust out from warmth 
and shelter into the drizzling rain and the 
gathering night, as though she had been the 
vilest of her sex. 

Heaven forgive me ! — I hated my wife 
then, and I made a vow that the same roof 



1 82 My Last Love, 

should never cover the twain of us again for 
any longer period than it would require to 
make the final arrangements I intended. 

After a short time we — Sir Walter and I 
— went round into Norfolk Street, where 
Eose, wrapped in shawls, was lying on a 
sofa drawn close up to the fire. 

He did not wish her to be told of his 
arrival, or prepared for his appearance, so 
we walked straight up together into the 
drawing-room, where the servant said we 
should find her. 

He never asked if she were better or 
worse, and the only sign of anxiety T could 
trace in his manner was an involuntary 
pause ere he turned the handle of the door. 
For a moment he seemed half afraid of 
entering, then, collecting his courage, he 
crossed the threshold. 

As he did so, Eose languidly raised her 
head, then almost shrieking out '^ Walter,'' 
stretched her arms towards him. 

That was enough ; the past with its fear 



Reconciled. 1 83 



and its suspicion fled away on the instant, 
and they were once again all they had ever 
•been to one another, that, and perhaps a 
little more ; he was kneeling by her side in 
an instant, kissing her, and sobbing out — 
" Oh ! Eose, my poor darling ! " 
Then Joan and I retreated from the apart- 
ment, and left the husband and wife alone 
together. 



1 84 



CHAPTER IX. 

CONCLUSION. 

It was the most natural thing in the world 
that Sir Walter should desire Lady Surry's 
immediate removal to her own home ; and it 
pleased me to see that, whereas a week 
previously he had declared she should never 
return to his house, he was now almost mad 
with anxiety to get her there—not indeed to 
Grayborough, for that was impossible — but 
back to his town mansion. 

At first I urged him not to attempt taking 
her away until the morning, but Joan 
advanced so many reasons why it would be 
hetter for the removal to occur in the evening 



Conclusio7i. 1 85 



than at noon, that we at length despatched 
a messenger to the housekeeper, bidding her 
have all things in readiness, whilst I went 
out and hired the most comfortable brougham 
I could find to convey her to her husband's 
house. 

When everything was ready, Joan enve- 
loped Eose in wraps, and I stood aside for 
Sir Walter to carry her downstairs ; but, to 
my astonishment, he drew back. 

"Luttrell," he said, laying his hand on 
my arm, " I seem to have no strength left, 
I cannot do it. Will you ? " 

I did not answer. I only took up the light 
burden, and bore it to the carriage, where 
my sister placed pillows under her head, and 
placed her feet on the opposite seat, and 
folded the shawls and rugs over her tenderly. 

After this Joan and I stepped aside, feeling 
our part was done, — that we had given up 
Eose to the only person who held a right- 
ful claim upon her ; but Sir Walter, turning 
to me and my sister, said — 



1 86 My Last Love, 

" You will come with us — oh ! Miss 
Luttrell, do not leave her yet ! " 

'-^ If you wish it," I answered, ^^ we will 
<3ome, but not with you." 

So Joan and I walked up together into 
the Strand, where I hailed a cab, and bade 
the man drive as fast as he could to Sir 
"Walter Surry's house. 

We arrived there some minutes before the 
brougham, and Joan, telling the housekeeper 
who she was, went up to see that Lady 
Surry's room had been prepared for her, 
whilst I remained in the dining-room waiting 
their arrival. 

There had been a time when I never 
thought to stand in Walter Surry's house 
with his or my own goodwill, but with the 
shadow of death stealing on towards that 
stately mansion it was no time to revive old 
feuds, to cherish mortal hatred. He had 
taken her from, me, but there was one 
mightier than man coming to take her from 
him, and my soul was so full of pity for the 



Co7iclusion, 187 



-grief and remorse I beheld written on his 
face that it could not remember my own 
desolate life, or the heart which his theft 
had left empty for ever. 

When the carriage arrived, without 
asking him whether I should or should not, 
I lifted Eose out as gently and tenderly as 
I could, and merely begging him to show me 
the way, carried her up the wide staircase and 
along a corridor, where my feet sank noise- 
lessly into the thick soft carpet, to her room. 

She had fainted again, and I laid her down 
upon a couch, whilst the doctor, who had 
been abeady summoned, bustled up to her 
side and commenced applying restoratives. 
My part was done, the need for me existed 
no longer, so I walked to the doorway, and 
then paused and looked back. They had 
thrown aside the light shawl which enveloped 
her head, and her long hair rippled over her 
shoulders and fell in waves of silken softness 
almost to the ground. Her face was white 
.as that of a corpse, and the blue-veined 



1 88 My Last Love, 



eyelids were closed upon the sweet pleading 
eyes. One thin hand drooped over the side 
of the conch. There was death in every 
line of her face, in the very outline of her 
figure, and unable to help myself I strode 
back to where she lay, and taking her hand, 
pressed it to my lips, and heart, while she 
remained unconscious of me or my madness. 

Then 1 left the room and her — it was the 
last time, living or dead, I ever beheld the 
face of Eose Surry. 

Down the staircase Sir "Walter followed 
me. Pausing at the dining-room door I 
asked him to favour me with a moment's 
private conversation, and when he entered 
the apartment I said, 

^^ Do you wish my sister to remain here, 
or can she return with me now ? " 

*^ If she could remain," he answered, ^^ oh I 
if only she could remain ? " 

*' She shall do so if you desire it," I 
replied ; '-'- but if she stay I must stay until 
the arrival of Lady Surry's mother." 



Conclusion, 189 



^^ Her mother may see Eose if she wish," 
answered Sir "Walter, " but she shall never 
remain here." 

'-'- Then it will be impossible for my sister 
to do so," I said. " We are not low enough 
in rank for her to stay here exactly as a 
servant, and we are not high enough to 
stand above the world's opinion." 

'^Luttrell, do not be hard upon me," he 
answered, and I then knew I had been a 
little bitter in iny humility ; ^' do not leave 
me alone in my trouble, there is no man 
living I should so earnestly desire to call 
friend as yourself, and as for Rose, I 
know there is no woman she would so 
much desire to have with her as your 
sister." 

^^ In that case," I said, ^^ I will, with 
your permission, send for my mother, and 
she can remain here till — " 

There was no need for me to finish that 
sentence ; we both knew there could but be 
one possible ending to it. 



I go My Last Love. 



Next day my mother arrivedj and I went 
back to my chambers and my work. 

"With regard to Catharine, I had not yet 
seen her. I did not mean to see her till all 
was oyer, and though Mr. Sherlock came 
and Mrs. Sherlock wrote, persuading me to 
go home, I gave both but one stereotyped 
answer, '-'- ^NTot yet." 

I could not forgive her ; I meant never to 
forgive her. I did not tell Mr. Sherlock 
Eose was dying, and reconciled to her 
husband — that her children had been given 
back to her to hold till death claimed her. 
I only remained obstinately firm. '^Not 
yet," I said, and Mr. Sherlock went away 
marvelling exceedingly. 

Before that month expired she was dead. 
One morning Sir Walter entered my 
chambers, and I knew by his face what had 
happened. 

" Should you like to see her ? " he asked. 
During her illness he had often asked me 
the same question, and I had always answered, 
him '-^ IS'o." I answered him ^^ !N'o " now. 



Conclusion. 19 r 



"You will come to tlie funeral, though," 
he said ; but I shook my head. 

" Is there never to be peace between us ? '^ 
he asked. 

" I trust there will never be war," I 
answered, and there never has been. 

That night I went into my own house, and 
found Catharine dressed out for a party. 
She received me as a criminal, heaping 
reproaches on my head, exhausting her 
feminine vocabulary for phrases suitable to 
describe the enormity of my crimes. I had 
brought the good-for-nothing woman there 
simply to have opportunities of making love 
to her ; I had laid out a deliberate scheme 
of wickedness and villany. 

" Your sister, whom I always disliked and 
distrusted," continued Catharine, " aided 
and abetted your deception. I suppose you 
thought because she was Lady Surry I 
should bear it. Lady, indeed ! Had I my 
will I know what I should do with her and 
such as her ; and as for you, sii', I wonder 



192 My Last Love, 

at your daring to return home in this manner 
to me, after the weeks in which you have no 
doubt been living with that wretch." 

^^Have you quite finished your instructive 
discourse?" I inquired when at length she 
paused, literally because, I think, she had 
not another word to say, "for if you have 
there is one question I should like to ask 
you." 

"What is it?" 

" You hated Lady Surry very much, you 
were very jealous of her, were you not ?" 

"And with reason," she retorted, " with 
good and sufficient reason." 

"You will be glad, then, to know that 
she is dead, — that she died at half-past 
eight this morning, — that her husband, who 
is almost distracted, brought me this news, 
— and that I have come here to-night merely 
to say your senseless jealousy, your pitiless 
cruelty, killed her." 

With that I rose to leave the :oom, but 
Catharine rushed after me. "It is not 



Conclusiofi. 193 



true ; it cannot be true," she almost slirieked. 
^^ She was delicate, but not " 

" She is dead," I repeated, " you killed 
her, and I will never forgive you — never ; I 
renounce you this night. From this hour I 
have no wife and you no husband." 

She caught my arm, but I shook her off; 
she seized my coat, but I pulled it out of 
her grasp. It was hard for her, I see it all 
now, but I had not a thought then 
save for Eose thrust out from my house 
with bitter words and bitterer innuen- 
dos. I had not even a comer in my 
heart for the wife who, fancying herself 
wronged, had cast forth the intruder, reck- 
less — as all such women are — of conse- 
quences, forgetful of mercy, oblivious to 
justice. 

After that there comes a time in my life, 
the memory of which I should like to blot 
out — a time when I lived utterly alone, 
working hard it is true, and maintaining my 
wife and family, but leading a godless, 

VOL. III. 



194 ^y Last Love, 

hopeless, desperate sort of existence, un- 
cheered by a single ray of light. 

I made money for the only time in my 
recollection faster than I wanted it — I had 
to send away briefs — I had to turn a deaf 
ear to the solicitations of publishers. Fame 
came to me also ; I climbed high in my 
profession ; I wrote works which were 
eagerly sought after — outsiders, I doubt 
not, envied me my success, ay, and perhaps 
grudged it too, but they need not have done 
so. If the fruit were fair, there was rot- 
tenness at the core ; go where I would, do 
what I might, I could never get that night 
out of my mind when I found the poor child 
sitting in a common street cab, sobbing be- 
cause she had been so evilly treated by the 
woman it was my misfortune to call wife. 

I took the matter to heart as I have never 
taken anything since, as I never shall 
anything again. I brooded over it — I 
mourned about it — I had such an impotent 
yearning agony in my soul at times, that it 



Conclusion, 195 



seemed to me I could not live, remembering 
why Eose had died. And then I used to 
think ^^ Oh ! if I had only gone to see her 
again even in her coffin," but I could not 
have done it. After that hour, when I saw 
her lying senseless in her husband's house, 
I do not think wild horses could have drawn 
me up those stairs to look at his wife once 
more. 

To this day, however, I could not describe 
the precise sort of feeling I entertained for 
Bose during that last part of our acquaint- 
anceship. It was one I should certainly 
have been neither afraid nor ashamed to 
analyse for the benefit of any one, had 
analysis been possible, and yet it darkened 
my life more certainly than even the tender 
passion of my boyhood. 

In the twilight she seemed to come back 
to me with her soft gentle ways, her sweet 
loveliness, her tender grace of manner, tone, 
and movement, and I felt at times as if I 
should certainly go madj when I remembered 

o2 



196 My Last Love, 

that she walked the earth no more ; that let 
time bring what it wonld, it could never 
bear back n23on its cruel waves that which 
it had taken from me — the child — the girl 
— the woman Eose. 

But this is folly, and I must finish. At 
what precise period a doubt as to the justice 
and rectitude of my own conduct entered my 
mind, I cannot exactly tell, but I think it 
was one evening as I walked slowly through 
the Temple, thinking about Walter Surry's 
harshness, and Walter Surry's remorse, that 
it occurred to me, whether the course I had 
adopted was the right one, or whether I had 
in my way not erred almost as much as my 
wife herself in hers. 

I had married the woman — I had vowed 
to love, protect, cherish her, and behold for 
the sake of another, who could never even 
had she lived been aught to me, I cast her 
oflP, her and the children, which were mine 
also. 

I did not in the least believe what Joan 



Conclusion. 197 



said, namely, that it was Catharine's love for 
me which made her pitiless towards Eose, but 
slowly by sure and almost imperceptible de- 
grees I came to see that, no matter what my 
wife might have been or might have done, 
I had not been right, and so after a long 
time I went back at last and told her if she 
were willing to forgive and to forget I was 
willing to do likewise. 

^^ I ^id not make sufficient allowance for 
you," I finished, and Catharine never con- 
tradicted me. She had talked the matter 
over with her female friends till the memory 
of Eose ailing and weakly driven out to die, 
faded away, and no image remained on the 
canvas of recollection save the fact that I 
had been a great deal too fond of another 
woman, and left my home and family be- 
cause she died. 

But for all that, Catharine was very glad 
indeed to welcome me back, to condone my 
misdeeds, and to forget her own. We cele- 
brated our reconciliation I remember with 



198 My Last Love, 

a dinner party, and Catharine wore a violet- 
coloured velvet dress, with which I pre- 
sented her, and looked very handsome 
indeed, for the colour became her admirably. 

After that we had a series of entertain- 
ments, and the world at length thoroughly 
understanding I had seen the folly of my 
ways and the wickedness of my devices, felt 
satisfied and received me back into it» 
bosom. 

And so the old existence was resumed as 
though nothing had ever occurred to break 
its monotony, and but for the visits which 
Sir Walter Surry frequently paid to the 
cottage at Southgate I might sometimes 
have been tempted to fancy the whole epi- 
sode a dream — a fantastic vision of my 
otherwise prosaic life. 

Meeting, however, that tall handsome 
man every time I went to see my parents, 
I could not think the past a dream or the 
present quite satisfactory. 

^^ He is coming after you, Joan, I sup^ 



Conclusion, 199 



pose," was my somewhat irritable remark 
one afternoon when he and I had crossed 
each other's path once again, and though 
Joan said ^^IN'onsense, Tom," I knew quite 
well it was so, and that some day I should 
lose my sister and see her married to the 
man for whose sake she had refused many 
an eligible offer. 

He should have married her at first. 
Joan was really the wife Sir Walter Surry 
wanted, and I know now he is far happier 
with her than he ever was with the ewe 
lamb he took from me, merely because, as it 
sometimes seems to my imagination, I was 
so poor that 5 had only one thing in all the 
earth which appeared valuable in my eyes. 

It came to marrying of course ultimately. 
He proposed, , and Joan accepted, and when 
the wedding took place I attended it in lieu 
of my father, then growing old and infirm, 
and gave the bride away. 

But we have never visited each other 
much — never been intimate in our acquaint- 



200 My Last Love. 

anceship — Joan is now, as I have said, a 
very great lady, and her way and mine do 
not lie together. She says this divergence 
is my fault and of my seeking, but I do 
not quite agree with this. 

I think my path began to diverge from 
that of most people when my life was thrown 
out of gear the morning I saw Eose walk 
out of church Walter Surry's wife. 

And this is all my story which I began to 
tell so long ago, and am only after months 
and months able to finish to-night. There 
is not much in it. For a moment I drop 
my pen and recall the few incidents it con- 
tains : a child standing by the water's edge, 
a girl listening to a love tale, apple blossoms 
strewing the grass her dear feet press, two 
most happy wandering together side by 
side, two most wretched cast out of their 
paradise, two meeting once more after years 
of separation, two parted till Eternity. 
Here lies the miniature of my first love; 
there hangs the portrait of my last, and yet 



Conclusion, 20 1 



they are both the likenesses of one and the 
same person, for I never have had but one 
love in all my life, and I never shall have 
another till the skeleton rider comes to fetch 
me from brief and book. 



FOEEWAENED, FOEEAEMED. 



FOREWARNED, FOREARMED 



The story which I am about to tell is not 
a chapter out of my own life. The incidents 
which go to furnish it were enacted years 
before I was bom ; the performers in it 
died forty years ago, and have left nor son 
nor heir to inherit the memory. 

I question whether the man live (the 
woman may, seeing women are more endur- 
ing than men) who could identify the names 
of the persons concerning whom I shall 
have hereafter to speak, but the facts hap- 
pened, nevertheless. 

Many a time I have heard them rehearsed, 
many a night I have sat on the hearthrug 
fascinated, listening to how Mi\ Dwarris 



2o6 Forewarned^ Forearmed. 

dreamt a dream, and many a night I have 
passed through the folding-doors that led 
from the outer to the lesser hall, and walked 
to bed along the corridors thinking trem- 
blingly of the face which continually re- 
appeared — of the journey in the coach and 
the post-chaise — all the particulars of which 
I purpose in due time to recount. Further, 
it is in my memory, that I was wont to 
place a pillow against my back in the night 
season, lest some vague enemy should enter 
my room and strike me under the fifth rib ; 
and I went through much anguish when 
the Storm King was abroad, fancyiQg I 
heard stealthy footsteps in the long gallery, 
and the sound of another person's breathing 
in the room beside my own. 

But in spite of this, Mr. Dwarris' dream 
was one of the awful delights of my child- 
hood ; and when strangers gathered around 
the social hearth, and the conversation 
turned upon supernatural appearances, as it 
often did in those remote days in lonely 



Forewarned^ Forearmed, 207 

country houses, it was always with a thrill 
of pleasure that I greeted the opening pas- 
sages of this, the only inexplicable yet true 
story we possessed. 

It was the fact of this possession, perhaps, 
which made the tale dear to me — other 
stories belonged to other people ; it was 
their friends or their relatives who had seen 
ghosts, and been honoured with warnings, 
but Mr. Dwarris' dream was our property. 

"We owned it as we owned the old ash 
tree that grew on the lawn. Though Mr. 
Dwarris was dead and gone, though at the 
age of threescore years and ten he had de- 
parted from a world which had used him 
very kindly, and which he had enjoyed 
thoroughly, to another world that he only 
knew anything of by hearsay, that in fact 
he only believed in after the vague gentle- 
manly sceptical fashion which was con- 
sidered the correct thing about the begin- 
ning of this century, still he had been a 
friend of our quiet and non-illustrious 
family. 



2o8 'Forewarned^ Forearmed. 

In our primitive society lie had been con- 
sidered a man of fashion, a person whose 
opinions might safely be repeated, whose de- 
cisions were not to be lightly contradicted. 
He was kind enough in the days when 
postage was very high (would those days 
could come back again) to write long letters 
to his good friends who lived far away from 
Court, and craved for political and fashion- 
able gossip — long letters filled with scraps of 
news and morsels of scandal, which foi-- 
nished topics of conversation for many days 
and weeks, and made pleasant little breaks 
in the monotony of that country existence. 

By my parents, and by the chosen friends 
who were invited to dinner when he 
honoured our poor house with his presence, 
he was looked up to as a learned and 
travelled man of the world. 

He had read everthing at a time when 
people did not read so much as is the case at 
present. He had not merely made the grand 
tour, but he had wintered frequently abroad, 



Forewarned^ Forearmed. 209 

and the names of princesses, duchesses, and 
counts flowed as glibly off his tongue as 
those of the vicar and family doctor from 
the lips of less fortunate mortals. 

The best china was produced, and the 
children kept well out of the way while he 
remained in the house. 

The accessories of his toilette table were a 
fearful mystery to our servants, and the plan 
he had of leaving his vails under his bolster 
or the soap dish, a more inscrutable mystery 
stiU. 

He did not smoke, and though that was a 
time when the reputation of hard drinking 
carried with it no stigma — quite the reverse 
indeed — he was temperate to a degree. While 
not utterly insensible to the charms of female 
beauty, he regarded the sex rather as a critical 
than a devoted admirer, and he was wont to 
consider any unusually handsome woman as 
practically thrown away on our society. 

He used to talk much of the ^ West End,' 

VOL. in. p 



210 Forewarned^ Forearmed. 

and, to sum up the matter, lie spoke as one 
having authority. 

Looking back at his pretensions from a 
point of observation which has not been at- 
tained without a considerable amount of ac- 
quaintance, pleasant and otherwise, with men 
of the same rank in life and standing in so- 
ciety, I am inclined to think that Mr. Dwarris 
was, to a certain extent, a humbug ; that he 
was not such a great man as our neighbours 
imagined, and that the style in which he lived 
at home was much less luxurious than that in 
which my parents considered it necessary to 
indulge when he honoured us with a visit. 

Further, I believe the time he spent with 
us, instead of proving irksome and uncon- 
genial to his superior mind, were periods 
of the most thorough enjoyment. Looking 
over his letters — which still remain duly 
labelled and tied up — I can see the natural 
man breaking through the conventional. I 
can perceive how happy a change it was for 
him to leave a life passed amongst people, 



Forewarned^ Forearmed. 211 

richer, better born, cleverer, more fashion- 
able than himself, in order to stay with 
fiiends who looked up to him, and believed 
in their simplicity ; it was an honour to re- 
ceive so great a man. 

I understand that he had no genius, that 
he had little talent, that he loved the world 
and the high places thereof, that he had no 
passion for anything whether in nature or 
art, but that he had acquired a superficial 
knowledge of most subjects, and that he 
affected a fondness for painting, music, 
sculpture, literature, because he considered 
such fondness the mark of a refined mind, 
and because the men and the women with 
whom he associated were content to think so 
too. 

But when he recalls with words of pleasure 
the journey he and my father made through 
the wilds of Connemara, when he speaks 
with tenderest affection of his old friend 
Woodville — (my maternal grandfather's 
name was Woodville) — when he sends a 

p2 



212 Forewarned^ Forearmed, 



word of kindly remembrance to each of the 
servants, who have been always happy to 
see, and wait upon him, I feel that the gloss 
and the pretension of learning were but super- 
ficial, that the man had really a heart, which, 
under happier auspices, would have rendered 
him a more useful and beloved member 
of society, instead of an individual in 
whose acquaintance we merely felt a pride, 
who was, as I have before said, one of our 
cherished possessions. 

He was never married ; he had no near 
relatives so far as we ever knew, and he 
lived all alone in a large house in a large 
English town, which, for sufficient reasons, 
I shall call Callersfield. 

In his early youth he had been engaged 
in business, but the death of a distant 
relative leaving him independent of his own 
exertions, he severed all connexion with 
trade, and went abroad to study whatever 
may be, in foreign parts, analogous to 
'- Shakespeare and the musical glasses ' in 
England. 



Forewarned^ Forearmed. 213 

To the end of his life — long after travel- 
ling became a much easier and safer matter 
than it was towards the close of the last 
century — he retained his fondness for con- 
tinental wanderings, and my mother's 
cabinets and my father's hot-houses* bore 
ample testimony to the length of his 
journeys and the strength of his friendship. 
Seeds of rare plants, and bulbs from almost 
every country in Europe, found their way 
to our remote home, whilst curiosities of all 
kinds were sent with the best wishes of ^ an 
old friend,' to swell that useless olio of 
oddities that were at once the wonder and 
admiration of my juvenile imagination. 

But at length all these good gifts came to 
an end. No more lava snuff-boxes and 
Pompeian vases ; no more corals, or fans, or 
cameos, or inlaid boxes ; no more gorgeous 
lilies or rare exotics ; for news arrived one 
morning that the donor had started on his 
last journey, and gone to that land whence 
no presents can be delivered by coach, rail- 



214 Forewarned^ Forearmed, 

"way, or parcels company, to assuage the 
grief of bereaved relatives. He was dead, 
and in due time there arrived at our house 
two of the most singular articles (as the 
matter appears to me now), that were ever 
forwarded without accessories of any kind 
to set them off, to people who had really 
been on terms of closest intimacy with the 
deceased. 

One was a plaster bust of Mr. Dwarris^ 
the other a lithograph likeness of the same 
gentleman. 

The intrinsic value of the two might in 
those days have been five shillings, but then, 
as his heii's delicately put it, they knew 
my parents would value these mementoes 
of their lamented friend far beyond any 
actual worth which they might possess. 

Where, when the old home was broken 
up, and the household gods scattered, that 
bust vanished I can form no idea, but the 
lithograph is still in my possession ; and as I 
look at it I feel my mother's statement to- 



Forewarned^ Forearmed^ 215 

have been utterly true, namely, that Mr. 
Dwarris was not a man either to be deluded 
by his imagination, or to tell a falsehood 
wittingly. 

Perhaps in the next world some explana- 
tion may have been vouchsafed to him about 
his dream, but on this side the grave he 
always professed himself unable to give the 
slightest solution of it. 

''I am not a man," he was wont to 
declare, " inclined to believe in the super- 
natural ; " and indeed he was not, whether 
in nature or religion. 

To be sure he was secretly disposed to 
credit that great superstition which many 
persons now openly profess — of an universe 
without a Creator, of a future without a 
Eedeemer — but still this form of credulity 
proceeds rather from an imperfect develop- 
ment of the reason than from a disordered 
state of the imagination. 

In the ordinary acceptation of the word 
he was not superstitious. He was hard 



2i6 Forewarned^ Forearmed, 

headed and lie was cold-blooded — essen- 
tially a man to be trusted implicitly wben 
lie said such and such a thing had happened 
within his own experience. 

^^I never could account for it in any 
way," he declared — '' and if it had chanced 
to another person, I should have believed he 
had made some mistake in the matter. For 
this reason, I have always felt shy of re- 
peating my dream — but I do not mind 
telling it to you to-night." 

And then he proceeded to relate the story 
which thenceforth became our property — the 
most enduring gift he ever gave us. 

This is the tale he told while the wind 
was howling outside, and the snow falling 
upon the earth, and the woodfire crackling 
and leaping as a fit accompaniment. 

I did not hear him recite his adventures 
— but I have often sat and listened while 
the story was rehearsed to fresh auditors — 
almost in his own words. 

''The first time that I went abroad," he 



Forewarned^ Forearmed, 217 

began, '' I made acquaintance with Sir 
Harry Hareleigh. How our acquaintance 
commenced is of no consequence — but it 
soon ripened into a close friendship, which 
was only broken by his death. His father 
and my father had been early friends also — 
but worldly reverses had long separated our 
family from that of the Hareleighs, and it 
was only by the merest chance I resumed 
my connection with it. Sir Harry was the 
youngest son — but his brothers having all 
died before their father, he came into his 
title early — though he did not at the same 
time succeed to any very great amount of 
property. 

^^ A large but unentailed estate, owned 
by a bachelor Ralph Hareleigh, would, 
people imagined, ultimately come into his 
hands — but Sir Harry himself considered 
this doubtful — for there was a cousin of his 
own who longed for the broad acres, and spent 
much of his time at Dulling Court, which was 
the name of Mr. Ealph Hareleigh's seat. 



2i8 Forewarned^ Forearmed, 

"^!N'oone,' Sir Harry declared, 'should 
ever be able to say he sat watching for 
dead men's shoes ; ' and so he spent all 
his time abroad — visiting picture galleries 
and studios, and mixing much among artists 
and patrons and lovers of art. 

'^ It seemed to me in those days that he 
was wasting his existence, and that a man of 
his rank and abilities ought to have remained 
more in his own country, and associated 
more with those of his own standing in 
society — but whenever I ventured to hint 
this to him, he only answered that — 

" ' England had been a cruel stepdame to 
him, and that of his own free-will he would 
never spend a day in his native country 
again.' 

^^ He had a villa near Florence, where he 
resided when he was not wandering over 
the earth ; and there I spent many happy 
weeks in his society — before returning, as it 
was needful and expedient for me to do, to 
Callersfield. 



Forewarned^ Forearmed. 219 

^' "We had been separated for some years 
— during the whole of which time we cor- 
responded regularly, when one night I 
dreamt a dream which is as vivid to me 
now as it was a quarter of a century ago. 

'^ I know I was well in health at the time 
— that I was undisturbed in my mind — 
that especially my thoughts had not been 
straying after Sir Harry Hareleigh. I had 
heard from him about a month previously, and 
he said in his letter that he purposed winter- 
ing in Yienna, where it would be a great plea- 
sure if I could join him. I had replied that 
I could not join him at Tienna, but that it 
was not impossible we might meet the fol- 
lowing spring if he felt disposed to spend a 
couple of months with me in Spain, a 
country which I then desired to visit. 

'^ I was, therefore, not expecting to see 
him for half a year, at all events — and had 
certainly no thought of his arrival in Eng- 
land, and yet when I went to bed on the night 
in question, this was what happened to me. 



2 20 Forewarned^ Forearmed, 

'' I dreamt that towards the close of an 
autumn day I was sitting reading by the 
window of my library — you remember how 
my house is situated at the corner of two 
streets, and that there is a slight hill from 
the town up to it — you may recollect, also, 
perhaps, that the windows of my library 
face on this ascent, while the hall door opens 
into King Charles Street. Well, I was sit- 
ting reading as I have said, with the light 
growing dimmer and dimmer, and the print- 
ed characters getting more and more indis- 
tinct, when all at once my attention was 
aroused by the appearance of a hackney 
coach driven furiously up Martyr Hill. 

'^ The man was flogging his horses un- 
mercifully, and they cantered up the ascent 
at a wonderful pace. I rose and watched 
the vehicle turn the comer of King Charles 
Street, when of course it disappeared from 
my observation. I remained, however, 
standing at the window looking out on the 
gathering twilight, and but little curious 



Forewar7ied^ Forearmed, 221 

concerning a loud double knock which re- 
sounded through the house. Next moment, 
however, the library door opened, and in 
walked Sir Harry Hareleigh. 

'^ ^ I want you to do me a favour, Dwarris,' 
were almost his first words. ' Can you — 
will you — come with me on a journey? 
Your man will just have time to pack a 
few clothes up for you, and then we shall 
be able to catch the coach that leaves ^ The 
Maypole ' at seven. I have this moment 
arrived from Italy, and will explain every- 
thing as we go along. Can you give me 
a crust of bread and a glass of wine ? ' 

^' I rang the bell and ordered in refresh- 
ments. While he was hastily swallowing 
his food. Sir Harry told me that Ralph Hare- 
leigh was dead and had left him every acre 
of land he owned and every guinea of 
money he possessed. ' He heard,' it appears, 
added Sir Harry, ^ that my cousin George 
had raised large sums of money on the 
strength of certainly being his heir, so he 



2 22 Forewarned^ Forearmed, 

<}ut him out and left the whole to me, sad- 
dled with only one condition, namely, that I 
should marry within six months from the 
date of his death.' 

'^ ^ And when do the six months expire ? ' 
I inquired. 

''- ' There's the pull ! ' he answered. ^ By 
some accident my lawyer's first letter never 
reached me ; and if by good fortune it had 
not occurred to him to send one of his clerks 
with a second epistle, I should have been 
done out of my inheritance. There is only 
a bare month left for me to make all my ar- 
rangements.' 

^^ ' And where are you going now ? ' I 
asked. 

'^ ^ To Dulling Court,' he returned, ^ and 
we have not a moment to lose if we are to 
catch the mail.' 

" Those were the days in which gentlemen 
travelled with their pistols ready for use, 
and you may be sure I did not forget mine. 
My valise was carried out to the hackney 



Forewarned^ Forearmed, 2 2^ 

carriage ; Sir Harry and I stepped in to the 
vehicle, and before I had time to wonder at 
my friend's sudden appearance, we were at 
the ^Maypole/ and taking our places as in- 
side passengers to Warweald, from whence 
our route lay across country to Dulling. 

^'When we had settled ourselves com- 
fortably, put on our travelling-caps, and 
buttoned our great coats up to our throats, 
I looked out to see whether any other pas- 
sengers were coming. 

" As I did so, my eye fell on a man who 
stood back a little from the crowd that al- 
ways surrounds a coach at starting time, 
and there was something about him which 
riveted my attention, though I could not 
have told why. 

'' He was an evil-looking man, dressed in 
decent but very common clothes, and he 
stood leaning up against the wall of the 
' Maypole,' and, as it chanced, directly under 
the light of an oil-lamp. 

" It was this circumstance which enabled 



224 Forewarned^ Forearmed, 

me to get so good a view of his face, of his 
black hair and reddish whiskers, of his rest- 
less brown eyes, and dark complexion. 

^^ The contrast between his complexion 
and his whiskers I remember struck me 
forcibly, as did also a certain discrepancy 
between his dress and his appearance. 

" He did not stand exactly as a man of 
his apparent class would stand, and I noticed 
that he bit his nails nervously, a luxury I 
never observed an ordinary working man 
indulge in. 

'•'- Further, he stared not at what was go- 
ing on, but persistently at the coach window 
until he discovered my scrutiny, when he 
turned on his heel and walked away down 
the street. 

" Somehow I seemed to breathe more 
freely when once he was gone ; but as the 
coach soon started I forgot all about him, 
imtil two or three stages after, happening to 
get out of the coach for a glass of brandy, I 
beheld the same man standing at a little 
distance and watching the coach as before. 



Forewarned. Forear?ned. 



225 



'^ My first impulse was to go up and speak 
to him, but a moment's reflection showed 
me that 1 should only place myself in a 
ridiculous position by doing so. No doubt 
the man was merely a passenger like our- 
selves, and if he chose to lean up against 
the wall of the inn while the horses were 
being changed, it was clearly no business of 
mine. 

" At the next stage, however, when I 
looked out for him he was nowhere to be 
seen, and I thought no more of the matter 
till on arriving at Warweald I chanced to 
put my head out of the window furthest 
from the inn, when by the light of one of 
the coach lamps I saw my gentleman drop 
down from the roof and walk away into the 
darkness. We went into the inn parlour 
whilst post horses were put to, and then I 
told Sir Harry what I had witnessed. 

^^ ^Yery likely a Bow Street runner,' he 
said, ^keeping some poor wretch well in 
sight. I should not wonder if the old 

VOL. III. Q 



226 Forewarned^ Forearmed, 

gentleman who snored so persistently for 
the last twenty miles, be a hardened crimi- 
nal on whom your friend will clap handcuffs, 
the moment he gets the warrant to arrest 
him.' 

^'The explanation seemed so reasonable 
that I marvelled it had not occurred to me 
before, and then I suppose I went off into 
deeper sleep, for I have only a vague recollec- 
tion of dreaming afterwards, how we travel- 
led miles and miles in a post chaise, how 
we ploughed through heavy country lanes, 
how we passed through dark plantations, and 
how we stopped at last in front of an old- 
fashioned way-side house. 

" It was a fine night when we arrived 
there, but the wind was high and drifted 
black clouds over the moon's face. We 
alighted at this point and I remember how 
the place was engraved on my memory. 

•'It was an old inn, with a large deep 
door- way, two high gables, and small latticed 
windows. There were tall trees in front of 



Forewarned^ Forearmed. 227 

it, and from one of these the sign ^A Bleed- 
ing Heart, ^ depended, rocking moanfully to 
and fro in the breeze. There were only a 
few leaves left on the branches, but the wind 
caught up those which lay scattered on the 
ground, and whirled them through the air. 
Xot a soul appeared as our chaise drove up 
to the door. The postilion, however, ap- 
plied the butt end of his whip with such 
vigour to the door that a head was soon 
thrust from one of the windows, and a gruff 
voice demanded, ' what the devil we wanted.' 

'^ Just as he was about to answer, moved 
by some sudden impulse, I turned suddenly 
round and beheld stealing away in the 
shadow, my friend with the dark com- 
plexion and the red whiskers. 

" At this juncture I awoke — always at 
this juncture I awoke, for I dreamt the 
same dream over and over again, till I really 
grew afraid of going to bed at night. 

"I used to wake up bathed in perspi- 
ration with a horror on me such as I have 

q2 



228 Forewarned^ Forearmed, 

never felt in my waking moments. I could 
not get the man's face out of my mind — 
waking I was constantly thinking of it, 
sleeping I reproduced it in my dreams — 
and at length I became so nervous that I 
had determined to seek relief either in 
medical advice or change of scene — when 
one evening in the late autumn as I sat. 
reading in my library — the identical coach 
I had beheld in my dream drove up Martyr 
Hill, and next moment Sir Harry and I 
grasped hands. 

" Though I had the dream in my mind all 
the while, something withheld me from 
mentioning it to him. We had always 
laughed at warnings and such things as old 
woman's tales, and so I let him talk on just 
as he had talked to me in my dream, and he 
ate and drank, and we went down together to 
the Maypole and took our seats in the coach. 

^^ You may be sure I looked well up the 
street, and down the street, to see if there 
were any sign of my friend with the whis- 



Forewarned^ Forearmed, 



kers, but not a trace of him could I discern. 
Somewhat relieved by this I leaned back in 
my comer, and really in the interest of 
seeing and talking to my old companion 
again, I forgot all about my dream, until 
the arrival of another passenger caused me 
to shift my position a little, when I glanced 
out again, and there standing under the 
lamp — with his restless brown eyes, his 
dark complexion and his red whiskers — 
stood the person whom I had never before 
seen in the flesh, biting his nails indus- 
triously. 

" ' Just look out for a moment Hareleigh,' 
I said drawing back from the window, 
'- there is a man standing under the lamp I 
want you to notice.' 

'^ ' I see no man,' answered Sir Harry, and 
when I looked out again neither did I. 

'' As in my dream, however, I had beheld 
the stranger at different stages of our 
journey, so I beheld him at different stages 
with my waking eyes. 



230 Forewarned^ Forearmed, 

^'Standing at the hotel at Warweald, I 
spoke seriously to my companion concerning 
the mysterious passenger, when to my 
amazement he repeated the same words I 
had heard in my di*eam. 

'^ '^Now, Hareleigh,' I said, ^this is get- 
ting past a joke. You know I am not 
superstitious, or given to take fancies, 
and yet I tell you I have had a warning 
about that man and I feel confident he 
means mischief,' and then I told Sir Harry 
my dream, and described to him the inn 
upon our arrival at which I had invariably 
awakened. 

^' ' There is no such inn anywhere on the 
road between here and Dulling,' he answered 
after a moment's silence, and then he turned 
towards the fire again and knit his brow, 
and there ensued a disagreeable pause. 

" * If I have offended you,' T remarked at 
last. 

'^ * My dear friend,' he replied in an 
earnest voice, ' I am not offended, I am only 



Forewarned^ Forearmed, 23 1 

alarmed. When I left the continent I 
hoped that I had put the sea between my- 
self and my enemy ; but what you say 
makes me fear that I am being dogged to 
my death. I have narrowly escaped assas- 
sination twice within the last three months, 
and I know every movement of mine has 
been watched, that there have been spies 
upon me. Even on board the vessel, by 
which I returned to England I was nearly 
pitched overboard ; at the time I regarded it 
as an accident, but if your dream be true, 
that was, as this is, the result of a pre- 
meditated plan.' 

'' ^ Then let us remain here for the night,' 
I urged. 

" ' Impossible,' he answered. ' I must 
reach Dulling before to-morrow morning, or 
otherwise the only woman I ever wanted to 
marry or ever shall marry will have dropped 
out of my life a second time.' 

'-'- 'And she,' I suggested. 

'^ ' Is the widow of Lord Warweald, and 



232 Forezvarned^ Forearmed. 

she leaves for India to-morrow with her 
brother the Honourable John Moffat.' 

" ' Then,' said I, '- you can have no diffi- 
culty in fulfilling the conditions of Mr. 
Ealph Hareleigh's will." 

^* '- !N'ot if she agree to marry me,' he 
answered. 

'' At that moment the chaise was an- 
nounced, and we took our places in it. 

'' Over the country roads, along lonely 
lanes, we drove almost in silence. 

'^ Somehow Sir Harry's statement and the 
memory of my own dream made me feel 
anxious and nervous. Who could this 
unknown enemy be ? had my friend played 
fast and loose with some lovely Italian, and 
was this her nearest of kin dogging him to 
his death ? 

^^ Most certainly the man who stood under 
the lamp at Callersfield had no foreign blood 
in his veins ; spite of his complexion, he was 
English, in figure, habit, and appearance. 

'' Could there be any dark secret in Sir 



Forewarned^ Forearmed. 233 

Harry's life? I then asked myself. His 
reluctance to visit England, his reserve 
about the earlier part of his existence, 
almost inclined me to this belief; and- 1 was 
just about settling in my own mind what 
this secret might probably be when the 
postilion suddenly pulled up, and after an 
examination of his horses' feet, informed us 
that one of them had cast a shoe, and that it 
was impossible the creature could travel the 
nine miles which still intervened between 
us and the next stage. 

" ' There is an inn, however,' added the 
boy, ' about a mile from here on the road to 
Eindon ; and if you could make shift to stop 
there for the night, I will undertake to have 
you at Dulling Court by nine o'clock in the 
morning.' 

" Hearing this, I looked in the moonlight at 
my friend, and Sir Harry looked hard at me. 

'^ ^ It is to happen so,' he said, and fling- 
ing himself back in the chaise, fell into a fit 
of moody musing. 



234 Forewarned^ Forearmed. 



"Meanwhile, as the horses proceeded 
slowly along, I looked out of the window, 
and once I could have sworn I saw the 
shadow of a man flung across the road. 

" When I opened the door, however, and 
jumped out, I could see nothing except the 
dark trees almost meeting overhead, and the 
denser undergrowth lying to right and left. 

" It was a fine night when we arrived at 
our destination, just such a night as I had 
dreamed was to come — moonlight, but with 
heavy black clouds drifting across the sky. 

"There was the inn, there swung the 
sign, the dead leaves swirled about us as we 
stood waiting while the post boy hammered 
for admittance. 

" It all came about as I had dreamt, save 
that I did not see waking as I had done in 
my sleep a stealing figure creeping away in 
the shadow of the house. 

" I saw the figure afterwards, but not 
then. 

"We ate in the house, but we did not 



Forewarned^ Forearmed, 235 



drink — we made a feint of doing so ; but we 
really poured away the liquor upon the hot 
ashes that lay underneath the hastily re- 
plenished fire, though I believe this caution 
to have been unnecessary. 

^' We selected our bed chambers, Sir 
Harry choosing one which looked out on 
what our host called the Wilderness, and I 
selecting another that commanded a view of 
the garden. 

'^ There were no locks or bolts to the 
doors, but we determined to pull up such 
furniture as the rooms afforded, and erect 
barricades for our protection. 

'^ I wanted to remain in the same apart- 
ment with my friend, but he would not hear 
of such an arrangement. 

'' ^ We shall only delay the end,' he said 
stubbornly, in answer to my entreaties, 
' and I have an ounce of lead ready for any 
one who tries to meddle with me.' So we 
bade each other good night, and separated. 

" I had not the slightest intention of 



236 Foreii'arned^ Forearmed. 

going to bed, so I sat and read my favourite 
poet till, overpowered by fatigue, I dropped 
asleep in my chair. 

'' When I awoke it was with a start ; the 
candle had burnt out, and the moonlight 
was sti-eaming through the white blind into 
room. 

'-^ Was it fancy, or did I hear some one 
actually try my door ? I held my breath, 
and then I knew it was no fancy, for the 
latch snicked in the lock, then stealthy foot- 
steps crept along the passage and down the 
stairs. 

^^ In a moment my resolution was taken. 
Opening my window, I crept on to the sill, 
and closing the casement after me, dropped 
into the garden. 

'^ Keeping close against the wall, I crept 
to the corner of the house, where I concealed 
myself behind an arhor vita. 

'^A minute afterwards the man I was 
watching for came round the opposite comer, 
and stood for a second looking at the win- 



Forewarned^ Forear^ned. 237 

dow of Sir Harry's room. There was a pear 
tree trained against the wall on this side of 
the house, and up it he climbed with more 
agility than I should have expected fi'om his 
appearance. 

'' I had my pistol in my hand, and felt 
inclined to wing him while he was fighting 
with the crazy fastening, and trying to 
open the window without noise, but I re- 
frained. I wanted to see the play out ; I 
desired to see his game, and so the moment 
he was in the room I climbed the pear tree 
also, and raising my eyes just above the sill, 
and lifting the blind about an inch, looked 
in. 

"• Like myself, Hareleigh had not un- 
dressed, but he lay stretched on the bed 
with his right hand under his head, and his 
left flung across his body. 

'' He was fast asleep, his pistols lay on a 
chair beside him, and I could see he had so 
far followed my advice as to have dragged 
an ancient secretaii-e across the door. 



238 Forewarned^ Forearmed. 

'^ By the moonliglit I got a 'good view 
now of the individual who had for so long 
a time troubled my dreams. As he stealthily 
moved the pistols he turned his profile a little 
towards the window, and then I knew what 
I already suspected, viz., that the man who 
had travelled with us from Callersfield was 
identical with the man who now stood beside 
Sir Harry meaning to murder him. 

'^ It was the dream in that hour which 
seemed the reality, and the reality the 
dream. 

^^For an instant he stooped over my 
friend, and then I saw him raise his hand 
to strike, but the same moment I took de- 
liberate aim, and before the blow could fall, 
fired and shot him in the right shoulder. 

^' There was a shriek and an imprecation, 
a rush to the window, where we met, he 
trying to get out, I striving to get in. 

^' I grappled with him, but having no 
secure foothold the impetus of his body was 
too much for me, and we both fell to the 



Forewarned^ Forearmed, 239 

ground together. The force of the fall 
stunned me, I suppose, for I remember 
nothing of what followed till I found my- 
self lying on a sofa in the inn, with Hare- 
leigh sitting beside me. 

" ' Don't talk ! for God's sake don't talk 1' 
he entreated. ^ We shall be out of this in 
five minutes' time if you think you can bear 
the shaking. I have made the landlord lend 
us another horse, and we shall be at Dulling 
in two hours' time. There you shall tell 
me all about it.' 

" But there I never told him all about it. 
Before we reached our next stage I was far 
too ill to travel further, and for weeks I 
lay between life and death at the Green 
Man and Still, Aldney. 

" When I was strong enough to sit up 
with him, Harry and Lady Hareleigh came 
over from Dulling to see me, but it was 
months before I could bear to speak of the 
events of that night, and though I never 
dreamed my dream again, it left its traces 
on me for life. 



240 Forewarned^ Forearmed. 

^' Till the day of his death, however, Sir 
Harry always regarded me as his preserver, 
and the warmest welcome to Dulling Court 
was given by his wife to. one whom she 
honoured by calling her dearest friend. 

'^"When Sir Harry died, he left me joint 
guardian with Lady Hareleigh of his 
children. So carefully worded a will, I 
never read — in the event of the death of his 
children without issue, he bequeathed 
Dulling Court to various charitable institu- 
tions. 

^^ ^ A most singular disposition of his 
property,' I remarked to his lawyer. 

" 'Depend upon it, my dear sir, he had 
his reasons,' that indi^^dual replied. 

" ' And those ' I suggested. 

'^ ' I must regard as strictly private and 
confidential.' 

" The most singular part of my narrative 
has yet to come," Mr. Dwarris continued 
after a pause. 

'^Many years after Sir Harry's death, it 



Forwarned^ Forearmed. 241 

chanced I arrived at a Mend's house on th^ 
evening before the nomination day of an 
election, which it was expected would be 
hotly contested. 

' ^ ^ Mr. Blair's wealth of course gives him 
a great advantage,' sighed my hostess, ' and 
we all do dislike him so cordially — I would 
give anything to see him lose.' 

"Accustomed to such thoroughly feminine 
and logical sentiments, I attached little im- 
portance to the lady's remarks, and with 
only a very slight feeling of interest in the 
matter, next morning accompanied my 
friend to the county town where the nomi- 
nation was to take place. 

"We were rather late in starting, and 
before our arrival Mr. Blair had commenced 
his harangue to the crowd. 

" He was talking loudly and gesticulating 
violently with his left hand when I first 
caught sight of him. He was telling the 
free and independent electors that they knew 
who he was, what he was, and why he 

VOL. III. E 



242 Forewarned^ Forearmed. 

supported such and such a political 
party. 

'^ At intervals he was interrupted by 
^ cheers and hisses/ but at the end of one of 
his most brilliant perorations, I who had 
been elbowing my way through the crowd, 
shouted out at the top of my voice — 

^* * How about the man you tried to 
murder at ^ The Bleeding Heart ? ' ' 

*^ For a moment there was a dead silence, 
then the mob took up my cry — 

" ^ How about the man you tried to 
murder at ^ The Bleeding Heart ? ' ' 

^^ I saw him look round as if a ghost had 
spoken, then he fell suddenly back, and his 
friends carried him off the platform. 

*^ My hostess had her wish, for his oppo- 
nent walked over the course, and a few 
weeks afterwards I read in the papers — 

^^^ Died— At Hollingford Hall, in his 
forty-sixth year, George Hareleigh Blair, 
Esq., nephew of the late Ealph Hareleigh, 
Esq., of Dulling Court.' 



Forewafned^ Forearmed. 243 



^' ' He married a Miss Blair, I presume/ 
I said to my host. 

'^ Yes, for her money,' was the reply, ^ she 
had two hundred thousand pounds.' 

^^ ^ So the mystery of the ' Bleeding Heart ' 
was cleared up at last ; but on this side the 
grave I do not expect to understand how I 
chanced to dream of a man I had never seen 
— of places I had never visited — of events of 
which I was not then cognizant — of conver- 
sations which had then still to take place." 



HERTFOKD O'DONNELL'S 
WAPwNING. 



HERTFORD O'DONNELL'S 
WARNING.* 



Many a year ago, before chloroform was 
thought of, there lived in an old, rambling 
house, in Gerard Street, Soho, a young 
Irishman called Hertford O'Donnell. 

After Hertford O'Donnell he was entitled 
to write M.E.C.S., for he had studied hard 
to gain this distinction, and the older sur- 
geons at Guy's (his hospital) considered him, 
in their secret hearts, one of the most rising 
operators of the day. 

Having said chloroform was unknown at 
the time this story opens, it will strike my 

* Beprinted bj the kind permission of the Pro- 
prietors of " London Society." 



248 Hertford G^DonnelPs Warning. 

readers that, if Hertford O'Donnell were a 
rising and successful operator in those days, 
of necessity he combined within himself a 
larger number of striking qualities than are 
by any means necessary to form a successful 
operator in these. 

There was more than mere hand skill, 
more than even thorough knowledge of his 
profession, needful for the man who, dealing 
with conscious subjects, essayed to rid them 
of some of the diseases to which flesh is heir. 
There was greater courage required in the 
manipulator of old than is at present alto- 
gether essential. Then, as now, a thorough 
mastery of his instruments — a steady hand 
— a keen eye — a quick dexterity were indis- 
pensable to a good operator ; but, added to 
all these things, there formerly required a 
pulse which knew no quickening — a mental 
strength which never faltered — a ready power 
of adaptation in unexpected circumstances — 
fertility of resource in difficult cases, and a 
rave front imder all emergencies. 



Hertford O^ DonnelP s Warfiing. 249 

, If I refrain from adding that a hard as 
well as a courageous heart was an important 
item in the programme, it is only out of de- 
ference to general opinion, which amongst 
other delusions, clings to the belief that 
courage and hardness are antagonistic 
qualities. 

Hertford O'Donnell, however, was hard 
as steel. He understood his work, and he 
did it thoroughly ; but he cared no more for 
quivering nerves and contracting muscles, 
for screams of agoDy, for faces white with 
pain, and teeih clenched in the extremity of 
anguish, than he did for the stony counte- 
nances of the dead which sometimes in the 
dissecting-room appalled younger and less 
experienced men. 

He had no sentiment, and he had no 
sympathy. The human body was to him an 
ingenious piece of mechanism, which it was 
at once a pleasure and a profit to understand. 
Precisely as Brunei loved the Thames Tun- 
nel, or any other singular engineering feat, 



250 Hertford C DoimelP s Warning, 

so O'Donnell loved a patient on whom he 
operated successfully, more especially if the 
ailment possessed by the patient were of a 
rare and difficult character. 

And for this reason he was much liked 
by all who came under his hands, for patients 
are apt to mistake a surgeon's interest in 
their cases for interest in themselves ; and it 
was gratifying to John Dicks, plasterer, and 
Timothy Eegan, labourer, to be the happy 
possessors of remarkable diseases, which 
produced a cordial understanding between 
themselves and the handsome Irishman. 

If he were hard and cool at the moment 
of hewing them to pieces, that was all for- 
gotten, or remembered only as a virtue, 
when, after being discharged from hospital 
like soldiers who have served in a severe 
campaign, they met Mr. O'Donnell in the 
street, and were accosted by that rising in- 
dividual, just as though he considered him- 
self nobody. 

He had a royal memory, this stranger in 



Hertford G^ DomielP s Warnmg. 251 

a strange land, both for faces and cases ; 
and like the rest of his countrymen he never 
felt it beneath his dignity to talk cordially 
to corduroy and fustian. 

In London, as at Calgillan, he never held 
back his tongue from speaking a cheery or 
a kindly word. His manners were pliable 
enough if his heart were not ; and the por- 
ters, and the patients, and the nurses, and 
the students at Guy's all were pleased to 
see Hertford O'Donnell. 

Eain, hail, sunshine, it was all the same ; 
there was a life and a brightness about the 
man which communicated itself to those 
with whom he came in contact. Let the mud 
in the streets be a foot deep, or the Lon- 
don fog thick as pea-soup, Mr. O'Donnell 
never lost his temper, never muttered a 
surly reply to the gate-keeper's salutation, 
but spoke out blithely and cheerfully to his 
pupils and his patients, to the sick and to 
the well, to those below and to those abova 
him. 



2^2 Hertford O' Don7ielP s Warning, 

And yet, spite of all these good qualities 
— spite of his handsome face, his fine figure, 
his easy address, and his unquestionable 
skill as an operator, the dons, who acknow- 
ledged his talent, shook their heads gravely 
when two or three of them in private and 
solemn conclave talked confidentially of their 
younger brother. 

If there were many things in his favour, 
there were more in his disfavour. He was 
Irish — not merely by the accident of birth, 
which might have been forgiven, since a 
man cannot be held accountable for such 
caprices of Nature, but by every other acci- 
dent and design which is objectionable to 
the orthodox and respectable and represen- 
tative English mind. 

In speech, appearance, manner, habits, 
modes of expression, habits of life, Hertford 
O'Donnell was Irish. To the core of his heart 
he loved his native land which he, never- 
theless, declared he never meant to revisit ; 
and amongst the English he moved to all 



Hertford G* DonnelP s Warning, 253 

intents and purposes a foreigner, who was 
resolved, so said the great prophets at Guy's, 
to go to destruction as fast as he could, and 
let no man hinder him. 

^' He means to go the whole length of his- 
tether," observed one of the ancient wise- 
acres to another ; which speech implied a 
conviction that Hertford O'Donnell, having 
sold himself to the Evil One, had deter- 
mined to dive the full length of his rope 
into wickedness before being pulled to the 
shore where even wickedness is negative 
— where there are no mad carouses, no wild, 
sinful excitement, nothing but impotent 
wailing and useless gnashing of teeth. 

A reckless, graceless, clever, wicked devil 
— going to his natural home as fast as in Lon- 
don a man can possibly progress thither : this 
was the opinion his superiors held of the 
man who lived all alone with a housekeeper 
and her husband (who acted as butler) in 
his big house near Soho. 

Gerard Street was not then an utterly 



254 Hertford 0^ DonnelP s Warning, 

shady and forgotten locality : carriage 
patients found their way to the rising 
surgeon — some great personages thought 
it not beneath them to fee an indivi- 
dual whose consulting rooms were situated 
on what was even then the wrong side of 
Eegent Street. He was making money, and 
he was spending it : he was over head and 
ears in debt — useless, vulgar debt — sense- 
lessly contracted, never bravely faced. He 
had lived at an awful pace ever since he 
came to London, at a pace which only a 
man who hopes and expects to die young 
can ever travel. 

Life, what good was it ? death, was he a 
child, or a woman, or a coward, to be afraid of 
death's " afterwards?" God knew all about 
the trifle which had upset his coach better 
than the dons at Guy's; and he did not dread 
facing his Maker, and giving an account to 
Him even of the disreputable existence he 
had led since he came to London. 

Hertford O'Donnell knew the world pretty 



Hertford O* DonnelP s Warning. 255 

•well, and the ways thereof were to him as 
roads often traversed ; therefore, when he 
said that at the day of judgment he felt 
certain he should come off better than many 
of those who censured him, it may be as- 
sumed that, although his views of post- 
mortem punishment were vague, unsatis- 
factory, and infidel, still his information as 
to the peccadilloes of his neighbours was 
such as consoled himself. 

And yet, living all alone in the old house 
near Soho Square, grave thoughts would 
intrude frequently into the surgeon's mind 
— thoughts which were, so to say, italicized 
by peremptory letters, and still more pe- 
remptory visits from people who wanted 
money. 

Although he had many acquaintances he 
had no single friend, and accordingly these 
thoughts were received and brooded over in 
solitude, in those hours when, after return- 
ing from dinner or supper, or congenial 
carouse, he sat in his dreary rooms smoking 



256 Hertford O^ DonnelP s Warning, 

his pipe and considering means and ways,. 
chances and certainties. 

In good truth he had started in London 
with some vague idea that as his life in it 
would not be of long continuance, the pace 
at which he elected to travel could be of 
little consequence ; but the years since his 
first entry into the metropolis were now piled 
one on the top of another, his youth was be- 
hind him, his chances of longevity, spite of 
the way he had striven to injure his consti- 
tution, quite as good as ever. He had come 
to that time in existence, to that narrow 
strip of tableland whence the ascent of youth 
and the descent of age are equally discern- 
ible — when, simply because he has lived for 
so many years, it strikes a man as possible 
he may have to live for just as many more, 
with the ability for hard work gone, with 
the boon companions scattered abroad, with 
the capacity for enjoying convivial meetings 
a mere memory, with small means perhaps, 
with no bright hopes, with the pomp and 



Hertford G^ DonnelP s Warning. 257 

the equipage, and the fairy carriages, and 
the glamour which youth flings over earthly 
objects faded away like the pageant of .yes- 
terday, while the dreary ceremony of living 
has to be gone through to-day and to-mor- 
row and the morrow after, as though the 
gay cavalcade and the martial music, and 
the glittering helmets and the prancing 
steeds were still accompanying the wayfarer 
to his journey's end. 

Ah ! my friends, there comes a moment 
when we must all leave the coach, with its 
four bright bays, its pleasant outside freight, 
its cheery company, its guard who blows 
the horn so merrily through villages and 
along lonely country roads. 

Long before we reach that final stage, 
where the black business claims us for its 
own especial property, we have to bid good- 
bye to all easy, thoughtless journeying, and 
betake ourselves with what zest we will, to 
traversing the common of Eeality. There 
is no royal road across it that ever I heard 

VOL. III. s 



258 Hertford 0^ Do7inelP s Warning, 

of. From the king on his throne to the 
labourer who vaguely imagines what manner 
of being a king is, we have all to tramp 
across that desert at one period of our lives, 
at all events ; and that period usually is 
when, as I have said, a man starts to find the 
hopes, and the strength, and the buoyancy 
of youth left behind, while years and years 
of coming life lie stretching out before him. 

The coach he has travelled by drops him 
here. There is no appeal, there is no help ; 
therefore let him take off his hat and wish 
the new passengers good speed, without 
either envy or repining. 

Behold, he has had his turn, and let who- 
soever will, mount on the box-seat of life 
again, and tip the coachman and handle the 
ribbons, he shall take that pleasant journey 
no more — no more for ever. 

Even supposing a man's spring time to 
have been a cold and uugenial one, with 
bitter easterly winds and nipping frosts, 
biting the buds and retarding the blossoms, 



Hertford G^DonneWs Warning. 259 

still it was spring for all that — spring with 
the young green leaves sprouting eagerly, 
with the flowers unfolding tenderly, with the 
songs of birds and the rush of waters, with 
the summer before and the autumn afar off, 
and winter remote as death and eternity; 
but whea once the trees have donned their 
summer foliage, when the pure white blos- 
soms have disappeared, and a gorgeous red 
and orange and purple blaze of many- 
coloured flowers fills the gardens, then' if 
there come a wet, dreary day, the idea of 
autumn and winter is not so difficult to 
realise. When once twelve o'clock is 
reached, the evening and night become facts, 
not possibilities ; and it was of the after- 
noon, and the evqping and the night, Hert- 
ford O'Donnell sat thinking on the Christ- 
mas Eve when I crave permission to intro- 
duce him to my readers. 

A good-looking man ladies considered 
him. A tall, dark-complexioned, black- 
haired, straight-limbed, deeply, divinely 

s 2 



26o Hertford O^ DonnelP s Warning, 

blue-eyed fellow, witli a soft voice, with a 
pleasant brogue, who had ridden like a 
Centaur over the loose stone walls in Con- 
nemara, who had danced all night at the 
Dublin balls, who had walked over the 
Bennebeola mountains, gun in hand, day 
after day without weariness, who had fished 
in every one of the hundred lakes you can 
behold from the top of that mountain near 
the Eecess Hotel, who had. led a mad, wild 
life in Trinity College, and a wilder, per- 
haps, while ^ studying for a doctor ' — as the 
Irish phrase goes — in Dublin, and who, aftei' 
the death of his eldest brother left him free 
to return to Calgillan and pursue the usual 
utterly useless, utterly purposeless, utterly 
pleasant life of an Irish gentleman possessed 
of health, birth, and expectations, suddenly 
kicked over the paternal traces, bade adieu 
to Calgillan Castle and the blandishments 
of a certain beautiful Miss Clifden, beloved 
of his mother, and laid out to be his wife, 
walked down the avenue without even so 



Hertford 0^ DoimelP s Warning. 261 



mucii company as a gossoon to cany his car- 
pet bag, shook the dust from his feet at the 
lodge-gates, and took his seat on the coach, 
never once looking back at Calgillan, where 
his favourite mare was standing in the 
stable, his greyhounds chasing one another 
round the home paddock, his gun at half- 
cock in his dressing-room, and his fishing- 
tackle all in order and ready for use. 

He had not kissed his mother or asked 
for his father's blessing ; he left Miss Clif- 
den arrayed in her bran-new riding-habit 
without a word of affection or regret ; he 
had spoken no syllable of farewell to any 
servant about the place ; only when the old 
woman at the lodge bade him good morning 
and God-blessed his handsome face, he 
recommended her bitterly to '4ook well at 
it, for she woiild never see it more." 

Twelve years and a half had passed since 
then without either Nancy Blake or any 
other one of the Calgillan people having set 
'eyes on Master Hertford's handsome face. 



262 Hertford G^ DonnclP s Warning, 

He had kept his vow made to himself; he had 
not written home ; he had not been indebted 
to mother or father for even a tenpenny -piece 
during the whole of that time ; he had lived 
without friends, and he had lived without 
God — so far as God ever lets a man live with- 
out him — and his own private conviction 
was that he could get on ver}^ well without 
either. One thing only he felt to be needful 
— money, money to keep him when the evil 
days of sickness, or age, or loss of practice 
came upon him. Though a spendthrift, he 
was not a simpleton. Around him he saw 
men who, having started with fairer prospects 
than his own, were nevertheless reduced to 
indigence ; and he knew that what had 
happened to others might happen to him- 
self. 

An unlucky cut, slipping on a bit of 
orange-peel in the street, the merest accident 
imaginable, is sufficient to change opulence 
to beggary in the life's programme of an 
individual whose income depends on eye, on^ 



Hertford O'' Donne IP s Warning. 263 

nerve, on hand ; and besides the conscious- 
ness of this fact, Hertford O'Donnell knew 
that beyond a certain point in his profession 
progress was not easy. 

It did not depend quite on the strength of 
his own bow or shield whether he counted 
his earnings by hundreds or thousands. Work 
may achieve competence; but mere work 
cannot, in a profession at all events, compass 
wealth. 

He looked around him, and he perceived 
that the majority of great men — great and 
wealthy — had been indebted for their eleva- 
tion more to the accidents of birth, patronage, 
connection, or marriage, than to personal 
ability. 

Personal ability, no doubt, they possessed ; 
but then, little Jones, who lived in Frith 
Street, and who could barely keep himself 
and his wife and family, had ability, 
too, only he lacked the concomitants of 
success. 

He wanted something or some one to puff 



264' Hertford G^ DonneW s Warning. 

him into notoriety — a brother at court — a 
lord's leg to mend — a rich wife to give him 
prestige into society ; and, lacking this some- 
thing or some one, he had grown grey-haired 
and faint-hearted in the service of that world 
which utterly despises its most obsequious 
servants. 

" Clatter along the streets with a pair of 
hired horses, snub the middle classes, and 
drive over the commonalty — that is the way 
to compass wealth and popularity in Eng- 
land," said Hertford O'Donnell, bitterly; 
and, as the man desired wealth and popu- 
larity, he sat before his fire, with a foot 
on each hob, and a short pipe in his mouth, 
considering how he might best obtain the 
means to clatter along the streets in his car- 
riage, and splash plebeians with mud from 
his wheels like the best. 

In Dublin he could, by reason of his name 
and connection, have done well ; but then 
he was not in Dublin, neither did he want 
to be. The bitterest memories of his life 



Hertford 0^ DonnelP s Warning. 265 

were inseparable from the name of the Green 
Island, and he had no desire to return to it. 

Besides, in Dublin, heiresses are not quite 
so plentiful as in London ; and an heiress 
Hertford O'Donnell had decided would do 
more for him than years of steady work. 

A rich wife could clear him of debt, in- 
troduce him to fashionable practice, afford 
him that measure of social respectability 
which a medical bachelor invariably lacks, 
deliver him from the loneliness of Gerard 
Street, and the domination of Mr. and Mrs. 
Coles. 

To most men, deliberately bartering away 
their independence for money seems so pro- 
saic a business that they strive to gloss it 
over even to themselves, and to assign every 
reason for their choice, save that which is 
really the influencing one. 

Not so, however, with Hertford O'Donnell. 
He sat beside the fire scoffing over his pro- 
posed bargain — thinking of the lady's age — 
her money-bags — her desirable house in 



266 Hertford O'' Don7ielP s Warning, 

town — her seat in the country — her snobbish- 
ness — her folly. 

^' It would be a fitting ending," he 
sneered ; " and why I did not settle the 
matter to-night passes my comprehension. 
I am not a coward, to be frightened with old 
women's tales ; and yet I must have turned 
white. I felt I did, and she asked me 
whether I was ill. And then to think of my 
being such an idiot as to ask her if she had 
heard anything like a cry, as though she 
would be likely to hear that — she, with her 
^oov parvenu blood, which, I often imagine, 
must have been mixed with some of her 
father's pickling vinegar. What the deuce 
could I have been dreaming about? I 
wonder what it really was ; " and Hertford 
O'Donnell pushed his hair back from his 
forehead, and took another draught from the 
too familiar tumbler, which was placed con- 
yeniently on the chimneypiece. 

" After expressly making up my mind 
to propose, too ! " he mentally continued.. 



Hertford O'DonneWs Warning, 267 

^^ Could it have been conscience— that myth, 
which somebody, who knew nothing of the 
matter, said, ^ makes cowards of us all ? ' I 
don't believe in conscience ; and even if there 
be such a thing capable of being developed 
by sentiment and cultivation, why should it 
trouble me ? I have no intention of wrong- 
ing Miss Janet Price Ingot — not the least. 
Honestly and fairly I shall marry her ; 
honestly and faii4y I shall act by her. An 
old wife is not exactly an ornamental article 
of furniture in a man's house ; and I do not 
know that the fact of her being well gilded 
makes her look any more ornamental. But 
she shall have no cause for complaint ; and 
I will go and dine with her to-morrow, and 
settle the matter." 

Having arrived at which resolution, Mr. 
O'Donnell arose, kicked down the fii'e — 
burning hollow — with the heel of his boot, 
knocked the ashes out of his pipe, emptied 
his tumbler, and bethought him it was time 
to go to bed. He was not in the habit of 



^68 Hertford G^ DonnelP s Warning, 

taking his rest so early as quarter to twelve 
o'clock ; but he felt unusually weary — tired 
mentally and bodily — and lonely beyond all 
power of expression. 

'' The fail' Janet would be better than this," 
he said, half aloud ; and then with a start 
and a shiver, and a blanched face, he turned 
sharply round, whilst a low, sobbing, wailiug 
cry echoed mournfuUv though the room. No 
form of words could give an idea of the 
sound. The plaintivenes of the Eolian harp 
— that plaintiveness which so soon affects 
and lowers the highest spirits — would have 
seemed wildly gay in comparison to the sad- 
ness of the cry which seemed floating in 
the air. As the summer wind comes and 
goes amongst the trees, so that mournful wail 
came and went — came and went. It came 
in a rush of sound, like a gradual crescendo 
managed by a skilful musician, and it died 
away like a lingering note, so that the listener 
could scarcely tell the exact moment when it 
faded away into silence. 



Hertford G^DonnelPs Warning. 269 

I say faded a^^ay, for it disappeared 
as the coast line disappears in the twilight, 
and there was utter stillness in the apart- 
ment. 

Then, for the first time, Hertford O'Don- 
nell looked at his dog, and beholding the 
creature crouched into a corner beside the 
fireplace, called upon him to come out. 

His voice sounded strange even to him- 
self, and apparently the dog thought so too, 
for he made no effort to obey the sum- 
mons. 

" Come out, sir," his master repeated, and 
then the animal came crawling reluctantly 
forward, with his hair on end, his eyes 
almost starting from his head, trembling 
violently, as the sui'geon, who caressed him, 
felt. 

'' So you heard it, Brian ? " he said to the 
dog. '-'- And so your ears are sharper than 
hers, old fellow ? It's a mighty queer thing 
to think of, being favoured with a visit from 
a banshee in Gerard Street; and as the lady 



270 Hertford O'^DoiinelPs Warnmg, 

lias travelled so far, I only wish. I knew 
whether there is any sort of refreshment she 
would like to take after her long journey." 

He spoke loudly, and with a certain 
mocking defiance, seeming to think the 
phantom he addressed would reply; but 
when he stopped at the end of his sentence, 
no sound came through the stillness. There 
was utter silence in the room — silence 
broken only by the falling of the cinders on 
the hearth and the breathing of his dog. 

''If my visitor would tell me, "'he pro- 
ceeded, " for whom this lamentation is being 
made, whether for myself, or for some other 
member of my illustrious family, I should 
feel immensely obliged. It seems too much 
honour for a poor surgeon to have such 
attention paid him. Good heavens ! What 
is that ? " he exclaimed, as a ring, loud and 
peremptory, woke all the echoes in the 
house, and brought his housekeeper in a 
state of distressing dishabille, " out of her 
warm bed," so she subsequently stated, to 
the head of the staircase. 



Hertford O^DonnelPs Warning, 271 

Across the liall Hertford O'Donnell 
strode, relieved at the prospect of speaking 
to any living being. He took no precaution 
of putting up the chain, but flung the door 
wide. A dozen burglars would have proved 
welcome in comparison to that ghostly in- 
truder ; and, as I have said, he threw the 
door open, admitting a rush of wet, cold 
air, which made poor Mrs. Coles' few re- 
maining teeth chatter in her head. 

''Who is there ? — what do you want? " 
asked the surgeon, seeing no person, and 
hearing no voice. "Who is there? — why 
the devil can't you speak ? " 

But when even this polite exhortation 
failed to elicit an answer, he passed out into 
the night and looked up the street, and down 
the street, to see nothing but the driving 
rain and the blinking lights. 

" If this goes on much longer I shall soon 
think I must be either mad or drunk," he 
muttered, as he re-entered the house, and 
locked and bolted the door once more. 



272 Hertford O^DonnelPs Warning. 

^'Lord's sake ! what is the matter, sir?'^ 
asked Mrs. Coles, from the upper flight, 
careful only to reveal the borders of her 
nightcap to Mr. O'Donnell's admiring gaze. 
"Is anybody killed? — have you to go out, 
sir?" 

" It was only a runaway ring," he an- 
swered, trying to reassure himself with an 
explanation he did not in his heart believe. 

" Runaway ! — I'd runaway them," mur-^ 
mured Mrs. Coles, as she retired to the con- 
jugal couch, where Coles was, to quote her 
own expression, " snoring like a pig through 
it all." Almost immediately afterwards she- 
heard her master ascend the stairs and close 
his bedroom-door. 

" Madam will surely be too much of a 
gentlewoman to intrude here," thought the 
surgeon, scoffing even at his own fears ; but 
when he lay down he did not put out his 
light, and he made Brian leap up and crouch 
on the coverlet beside him. 

The man was fairly frightened, and would 



Hertford 0^ Donne IPs Warning, 273 

have thought it no discredit to his manhood 
to acknowledge as much. He was not afraid 
of death, he was not afraid of trouble, he 
was not afraid of danger ; but he was afraid 
of the banshee ; and as he lay with his hand 
on the dog's head, he thought over all the 
stories he had ever heard about this family 
retainer in the . days of his youth. He had 
not thought about her for years and years. 
Never before had he heard her voice him- 
self. When his brother died, she had not 
thought it necessary to travel up to Dublin 
and give him notice of the impending 
catastrophe. " If she had, I would have 
gone down to Calgillan, and perhaps saved 
his life," considered the surgeon. ^^ I wonder 
who this is for ! If for me, that will settle 
my debts and my marriage. If I could be 
quite certain it was either of the old people, 
I would start for Ireland to-morrow." And 
then vaguely his mind wandered on to think 
of every banshee story he had ever heard in 
his life— about the beautiful lady with the 
VOL. ni. T 



274 Hertford G^ DonnelP s Warning. 

wreath of flowers, who sat on the rocks below 
Eed Castle, in the County Antrim, lamenting 
till one of the sons died for love of her ; about 
the Eound Chamber at Dunluce, which was 
swept clean by the banshee every night; 
about the bed in a certain great house in 
Ireland, which was slept in constantly, 
although no human being ever passed in or 
out after dark ; about that general officer 
who the night before Waterloo, said to a 
friend, '^ I have heard the banshee, and shall 
not come off the field alive to-morrow ; break 
the news gently to poor Carry ; " and who, 
nevertheless, coming safe off the field, had 
subsequently news about poor Carry broken 
tenderly and pitifully to him ; about the lad 
who, aloft in the rigging, hearing through 
the night a sobbing and wailing coming over 
the waters, went down to the captain and 
told him he was afraid they were somehow 
out of their reckoning, just in time to save 
the ship, which, when morning broke, they 
found but for his warning would have been 



Hertford C DonnelP s Warning, 275 

on the rocks. It was blowing great guns, 
and the sea was all in a fret and turmoil, and 
they could sometimes see in the trough of 
the waves, as down a valley, the cruel black 
reefs they had escaped. 

On deck the captain stood speaking to the 
boy who had saved them, and asking how he 
knew of their danger; and when the lad 
told him, the captain laughed, and said her 
ladyship had been outwitted that time. 

But the boy answered, with a grave shake 
of his head, that the warning was either for 
him or his, and that if he got safe to port 
there would be bad tidings waiting for him 
from home ; whereupon the captain bade 
him go below, and get some brandy and lie 
down. 

He got the brandy, and he lay down, but 
he never rose again ; and when the storm 
abated — when a great calm succeeded to the 
previous tempest — there was a very solemn 
funeral at sea ; and on their arrival at Liver- 
pool the captain took a journey to Ireland to 

T 2 



276 Hertford O^DonnelPs Warning. 

tell a widowed mother how her only son 
died, and to bear his few effects to the poor 
desolate soul. 

And Hertford O'Donnell thought again 
about his own father riding full-chase across 
country, and hearing, as he galloped by a 
clump of plantation, something like a sob- 
bing and wailing. The hounds were in full 
cry ; but he still felt, as he afterwards ex- 
pressed it, that there was something among 
those trees he could not pass ; and so he 
jumped off his horse, and hung the reins 
over the branch of a fir, and beat the cover 
well, but not a thing could be find in it. 

Then, for the first time in his life, Miles 
O'Donnell turned his horse's head from the 
hunt, and, within a mile of Calgillan, met a 
man running to tell him Mr. Martin's gun 
had burst, and hurt him badly. 

And he remembered the story also, of 
how Mary O'Donnell, his great aunt, being 
married to a young Englishman, heard the 
banshee as she sat one evening waiting for 



Hertford O^Don7ielPs Warbling. 277 

Ms return ; and of how she, thinking the 
bridge by which he often came home unsafe 
for horse and man, went out, in a great 
panic, to meet and entreat him to go round 
by the main road for her sake. Sir Everard 
was riding along in the moonlight, making 
straight for the bridge, when he beheld a 
figure dressed all in white upon it. Then 
there was a crash, and the figure disap- 
peared. 

The lady was rescued and brought back 
to the hall ; but next morning there were 
two dead bodies within its walls — those of 
Lady Eyreton and her still-born son. 

Quicker than I write them, these memo- 
ries chased one another through Hertford 
O'DonnelPs brain ; and there was one more 
terrible memory than any which would recur 
to him, concerning an Irish nobleman who, 
seated alone in his great town-house in Lon- 
don, heard the banshee, and rushed out to 
get rid of the phantom, which wailed in his 
ear, nevertheless, as he strode down Picca. 



278 Hertford G^ DonneW s Warning, 

dilly. And then the surgeon remembered 
how he went with a friend to the Opera, 
feeling sure that there no banshee, unless 
she had a box, could find admittance, until 
suddenly he heard her singing up amongst 
the highest part of the scenery, with a ter- 
rible mournfulness, with a pathos which 
made the prima donna's tenderest notes seem 
harsh by comparison. 

As he came out, some quarrel arose be- 
tween him and a famous fire-eater, against 
whom he stumbled ; and the result was that 
the next afternoon there was a new Lord 

' , vice Lord , killed in a duel with 

CaptaiQ Brayo. 

Memories like these are not the most en- 
livening possible ; they are apt to make a 
man fanciful, and nerrous, and wakeful ; but 
as time ran on, Hertford O'Donnell fell 
asleep, with his candle still burning, and 
Brian's cold nose pressed against his hand. 

He dreamt of his mother's family — ^the 
Hertfords, of Artingbury, Yorkshire, far-off 



Hertford G'DonnelPs Warning. 279 

relatives of Lord Hertford — so far off that 
even Mrs. O'Donnell held no clue to the 
genealogical maze. 

He thought he was at Artingbury, fishing ; 
that it was a misty summer's morning, and 
the fi^h rising beautifully. In his di-eam 
he hooked one after another, and the boy 
who was with him threw them into the 
basket. 

At last there was one more difficult to 
land than the others ; and the boy, in his 
eagerness to watch the sport, di'ew nearer 
and nearer to the brink, while the fisher, 
intent on his prey, failed to notice his com 
panion's danger. 

Suddenly there was a cry, a splash, and 
the boy disappeared from sight. 

Next instant he rose again, however, and 
then, for the fii^st time, Hertford O'Donnell 
saw his face. 

It was one he knew well. 

In a moment he plunged into the water, 
and struck out for the lad. He had him by 



2 8o Hertford CPDannelPs Warning, 

the hair, he was turning to bring him back 
to land, when the stream suddenly changed 
into a wide, wild, shoreless sea, where the 
billows were chasing one another with a 
mad demoniac mirth. 

For awhile O'Donnell kept the lad and 
himself afloat. Thev were swept under the 
waves, and came forth again, only to see 
larger wares rushing towards them; but 
through all the surgeon never loosened his 
hold until a tremendous billow engulfing 
them both, tore the boy from him. 

With the horror of that he awoke, to hear 
a voice saying quite dLstinetly. 

" Go to the hospital I — go at once ! " 

The surgeon started up in bed, rubbed 
his eyes, and looked about him. The 
candle was flickering faintly in its socket. 
Brian, with his ears pricked forward, had 
raised his head at his master's sudden jump. 

Everything was quiet, but still those 
words were ringing in his ear — 

" Go to the hospital I — go at once ! " 



Hertford GDonneiPs War7iing. 281 

The tremendous peal of the bell over- 
night, and this sentence, seemed to be 
simultaneous. 

That he was wanted at Guy's — wanted 
imperatively — came to O'Donnell like an 
inspiration. 

Neither sense nor reason had anything to 
do with the conviction that roused him out 
of bed, and made him dress as speedily as 
possible, and grope his way down the 
staircase, Brian following. 

He opened the front door, and passed out 
into the darkness. The rain was over, and 
the stars were shining as he pursued his 
way down Newport Market, and thence, 
winding in and out in a south-east direction, 
through Lincoln's Inn Fields and Old 
Square to Chancery Lane, whence he pro- 
ceeded to St. Paul's. 

Along the deserted streets he resolutely 
continued his walk. He did not know what 
he was going to Guy's for. Some instinct 
was urging him on, and he neither strove 



282 Hertford 0' DonneW s Warning. 

to combat nor control it. Only once had 
the thought of turning back occurred, and 
that was at the archway leading into Old 
Square. There he had paused for a moment, 
asking himself whether he were not gone 
stark, staring mad; but Guy's seemed prefer- 
able to the haunted house in Gerard Street, 
and he walked resolutely on, determining to 
say, if any surprise were expressed at his ap- 
pearance, that he had been sent for. 

Sent for ? — yea, truly ; but by whom ? 

On through Cannon Street ; on over Lon- 
don Bridge, where the lights flickered in the 
river, and the sullen plash of the water 
flowing beneath the arches, washing the 
stone piers, could be heard, now the human 
din was hushed and lulled to sleep. On, 
thinking of many things ; of the days of his 
youth ; of his dead brother ; of his father's 
heavily encumbered estate; of the fortune 
his mother had vowed she would leave to 
some charity rather than to him, if he re- 
fused to marry according to her choice ; of 



Hertford O^DonnelPs Warning, 283 

his wild life in London ; of the terrible cry 
he had heard overnight — that terrible wail 
which he could not drive away from his 
memory even as he entered Guy's, and con- 
fronted the porter, who said — 

^^ You have just been sent for, sir; did 
you meet the messenger " ? 

Like one in a dream, Hertford O'Donnell 
heard him ; like one in a dream, also, he 
asked what was the matter. 

^' Bad accident, sir; fire: balcony gave way 
— unsafe — old building. Mother and child 
— a son ; boy with compound fracture of 
thigh. ' ' This, the j oint information of porter 
and house-surgeon, mingled together, and 
made a roar in Mr. O'DonnelPs ears like 
the sound of the sea breaking on a shingly 
shore. 

Only one sentence he understood perfectly 
— " Immediate amputation necessary." At 
this point he grew cool ; he was the careful, 
cautious, successful surgeon in a moment. 



284 Hertford O' DoymelP s Warning. 

'^The boy, you say?" he answered; ^4et 
me see him." 

The Guy's Hospital of to-day may be 
different to the Guy's Hertford O'Donnell 
knew so well. Eailways have, I believe, 
swept away the old operating room ; railways 
may have changed the position of the old 
accident ward, to reach which, in the days of 
which I am writing, the two surgeons had to 
pass a staircase leading to the upper stories. 

On the lower step of this staircase, par- 
tially in shadow, Hertford O'Donnell beheld, 
as he came forward, an old woman seated. 

An old woman with streaming grey hair, 
with attenuated arms, with head bowed 
forward, with scanty clothing, with bare 
feet ; who never looked up at their approach, 
l3ut sat unnoticing, shaking her head and 
wringing her hands in an extremity of grief. 

" Who is that ? " asked Mr. O'Donnell, 
almost involuntarily. 

^' Who is what ? " demanded his com- 
panion. 



Hertford O^DonnelPs Warning, 2^^^ 

'' That — that woman," was the reply. 

^^ What woman?" 

'* There — are you blind? — seated on the 
bottom step of the staircase. What is she 
doing ? " persisted Mr. O'Donnell. 

'' There is no woman near us," his com- 
panion answered, looking at the rising 
surgeon very much as though he suspected 
him of seeing double. 

"• 1^0 woman ! " scoffed Hertford. '' Do 
you expect me to disbelieve the evidence of 
my own eyes?" and he walked up to 
the figure, meaning to touch it. 

But as he essayed to do so, the woman 
seemed to rise in the air and float away, 
with her arms stretched high up over her 
head, uttering such a wail of pain, and 
agony, and distress, as caused the Irishman's 
blood to curdle. 

^•My God! Did you hear that?" he 
said to his companion. 

^^ What ? " was the reply. 

Then, although he knew the sound had 
fallen on deaf ears, he answered — 



286 Hertford C DonneWs Warning. 

" The wail of the banshee ! Some of my 
people are doomed ! " 

'^ I trust not," answered the house-surgeon, 
who had an idea, nevertheless, that Hertford 
O'Donnell's banshee lived in a whisky- 
bottle, and that she would some day make 
an end of that rising and clever operator. 

With nerves utterly shaken, Mr. O'Don- 
nell walked forward to the accident ward. 
There, with his face shaded from the light, 
lay his patient — ^a young boy, with a com- 
pound fracture of the thigh. 

In that ward, in the face of actual pain or 
danger capable of relief, the surgeon had 
never known faltering nor fear ; and now he 
carefully examined the injury, felt the pulse, 
inquired as to the treatment pursued, and 
ordered the sufferer to be carried to the opera- 
ting room. 

While he was looking out his instru- 
ments he heard the boy lying on the table 
murmur faintly — 

'' Tell her not to cry so — tell her not to 
cry." 



Hertford O^DonnelPs Warning, 287 

'' What is he talking about ? " Hertford 
O'Donnell inquired. 

" The nui'se says he has been speaking 
about some woman crying ever since he 
came in — his mother, most likely," answered 
one of the attendants. 

"He is delirious, then?" observed the 
surgeon. 

" No, sir," pleaded the boy, excitedly. 
* * No ; it is that woman — that woman with 
the grey hair. I saw her looking from the 
upper window before the balcony gave way. 
She has never left me since, and she won't 
be quiet, wringing her hands and crying." 

"Can you see her now?" Hertford 
O'Donnell inquired, stepping to the side of 
the table. "Point out where she stands." 

Then the lad stretched forth a feeble 
finger in the direction of the door, where 
clearly, as he had seen her seated on the 
stairs, the surgeon saw a woman standing — 
a woman with grey hair and scanty clothing, 
and upstretched arms and bare feet. 



288 Hertford O^DonnelPs Warning. 

^^ A word with you, sir," O'Donnell said 
to the house-surgeon, drawing him back 
from the table. "I cannot perform this 
operation ; send for some other person. I 
am ill : I am incapable." 

^^But," pleaded the other, " there is no 
time to get any one else. We sent for Mr. 

before we troubled you, but he was out 

of town, and all the rest of the surgeons live 
so far away. Mortification may set in at 
any moment, and " 

^' Do you think you require to teach me 
my business ? " was the reply. "I know 
the boy's life hangs on a thread, and that is 
the very reason I cannot operate. I am not 
fit for it. I tell you I have seen to-night 
that which unnerves me for anything. My 
hand is not steady. Send for some one else 
without delay. Say I am ill — dead ! — what 
you please. Heavens ! there she is again, 
right over the boy ! Do you hear her ? " 
and Hertford O'Donnell fell fainting on the 
floor. 



Hertford G^DonneWs Warning. 289 

He lay in that death-like swoon for hours ; 
and when he returned to consciousness, the 
principal physician of Guy's was standing 
beside him in the cold grey light of the 
Christmas morning. 

" The boy ? " murmured O'Donnell, 
faintly. 

'^ Now, my dear fellow, keep yourself 
quiet," was the reply. 

'^ The boy ? " he repeated, irritably. 
" Who operated?" 

'^No one," Dr. answered. ^' It 

would have been useless cruelty. Mortifi- 
cation had set in, and " 

Hertford O'Donnell turned his face to the 
wall, and his friend could not see it. 

^' Do not distress yourself," went on the 
physician, kindly. " Allington says he 
could not have survived the operation in 
any case. He was quite delirious from the 
first, raving about a woman with grey hair, 

ajad " 

" Yes, I know," Hertford O'Donnell inter- 

YOL. III. u 



290 Hertford G^DoJineWs H^arning, 

rupted ; " and the boy liad a motlier, they 
told me, or I dreamt it." 

*' Yes, bruised and shaken, but not 
seriously injured." 

" Has she blue eyes and fair hair — fair 
hair all rippling and wavy ? Is she white 
as a lily, with just a faint flush of colour in 
her cheek ? Is she young, and trusting, 
and innocent ? No ; I am wandering. She 
must be nearly thirty, now. Go, for God's 
sake, and tell me if you can find a woman 
that you could imagine having been as a 
girl such as I describe." 

" Irish ? " asked the doctor ; and O'Don- 
nell made a gesture of assent. 

^' It is she, then," was the reply ; *^ a 
woman with the face of an angel." 

"A woman who should have been my 
wife," the surgeon answered ; *^ whose child 
was my son." 

" Lord help you ! " ejaculated the doctor. 
Then Hertford O'Donnell raised himself 
from the sofa where they had laid him, and 



Hertford O^DonneWs Warning. 291 

told his companion the story of his life — 
how there had been bitter feud between his 
people and her people — how they were 
divided by old animosities and by difference 
of religion — how they had met by stealth, 
and exchanged rings and vows, all for 
nought — how his family had insulted hers, 
so that her father, wishful for her to marry 
a kinsman of his own, bore her off to a far- 
away land, and made her write him a letter 
of eternal farewell — ^how his own parents had 
kept all knowledge of the quarrel from him 
till she was utterly beyond his reach — how 
they had vowed to discard him unless he 
agreed to marry according to their wishes — 
how he left his home, and came to London, 
and pushed his fortune. All this Hertford 
O'Donnell repeated ; and when he had 
finished, the bells were ringing for morning 
service — ringing loudly — ringing joyfully. 
" Peace on earth, good will towards men." 
But there was little peace that morning 
for Hertford O'Donnell. He had to look on 



292 Hertford C Donneir s Warning, 

the face of his dead son, wherein he beheld, 
as though reflected, the face of the boy in 
his dream. 

Stealthily he followed his friend, and 
beheld, with her eyes closed, her cheeks 
pale and pinched, her hair thinner, . but still 
falling like a veil over her, the love of his 
youth, the only woman he had ever loved 
devotedly and unselfishly. 

There is little space left here, to tell of 
how the two met at last — of how the stone 
of the years seemed suddenly rolled away 
from the tomb of their past, and their youth 
arose and returned to them even amid their 
tears. 

She had been true to him, through perse- 
cution, through contumely, through kind- 
ness, which was more trying ; through 
shame, and grief, and poverty, she had been 
loyal to the lover of her youth ; and before 
the new year dawned there came a letter 
from Calgillan, saying that the banshee had 
been heard there, and praying Hertford, if 



Hertford O^DonnelPs War^iing, 293 

lie were still alive, to let bygones be by- 
gones, in consideration of the long years of 
estrangement — the anguish and remorse of 
his afflicted parents. 

More than that. Hertford O'Donnell, if 
a reckless man, was an honourable ; and so, 
on the Christmas Day when he was to have 
proposed for Miss Ingot, he went to that 
lady, and told her how he had wooed and 
won in the years of his youth one who after 
many days was miraculously restored to him ; 
and from the hour in which he took her into 
his confidence he never thought her either 
vulgar or foolish, but rather he paid homage 
to the woman who, when she had heard the 
whole tale repeated, said, simply, '-'- Ask her 
to come to me till you claim her — and God 
bless you both ! " 

THE END. 



PBINTED BX TAXLOB AND CO., 
LITTLE QUBBJC STKBBT, LINCOLN'S INN FIBLD8. 



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